LIMA – Around 250 people are participating in clean-up efforts in an area of the Peruvian Amazon affected by an oil pipeline spill, an indigenous organization in that region told EFE.
Employees of state-owned oil company Petroperu, operator of the North Peruvian Pipeline from which between 2,000 and 3,000 barrels of crude spilled, and inhabitants of the hamlet of Villa Hermosa and the municipality of Chiriaco, located in the northern region of Amazonas, are taking part in the remediation effort.
The president of the Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Northern Amazon of Peru, or ORPIAN -P, Edwin Montenegro, said Sunday that the spill had affected the Chiriaco River, although Petroperu says there is no danger of any rivers becoming contaminated.
Montenegro said several families were working diligently to clean up the area because the river serves as a main source of food and a watering place.
A commission from the Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement, or OEFA, has traveled to the site of the spill to investigate its environmental impact and obtain water samples for analysis.
The spill, which occurred on Jan. 25 at Kilometer 441 of the North Peruvian Pipeline, damaged nearby cacao crops and extended along a 3.5-kilometer (2.1-mile) section of the Inayo, a stream that flows into the Chiriaco, the OEFA said.
The spilled oil reached the Chiriaco River, a tributary of the Marañon River, a major regional waterway, because rains caused water levels to rise and overflow the protective barriers set up by Petroperu, according to the indigenous organization and local residents.
The OEFA officials will be in the area through Tuesday to supervise the clean-up effort and investigate a complaint filed by the ORPIAN -P, which has accused Petroperu of not carrying out maintenance work on the pipeline and failing to act quickly to control the leak.
The North Peruvian Pipeline transports oil extracted from the Peruvian rainforest to the Pacific port of Bayovar along a 854-kilometer (530-mile) route that includes five collection stations capable of storing up to 3.5 million barrels combined.