Major Peruvian Crude Oil Pipeline Breaks Spoil the Drinking Water of Local Native Communities

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Major Peruvian Crude Oil Pipeline Breaks Spoil the Drinking Water of Local Native Communities

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 11:43
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Map of Peru
Map of Peru

Two ruptures in Petroperu's main oil pipeline have spilled some 3000 barrels of crude into the Chiriaco and Morona rivers in northwestern Peru, contaminating the water supply of at least eight native Achuar communities which rely on the rivers for this purpose.

The pipeline, which normally transports 5000 - 6000 bpd, has ceased operation.

State-owned Petroperu faces some $17 million in fines if tests confirm that the spills, in late January and early February, hurt the health of locals, said OEFA, the Agency for Assessment and Environmental Control (OEFA, Spanish acronym), Peru's environmental regulator.

"It's important to note that the spills ... are not isolated cases. Similar emergencies have emerged as a result of defects in sections of the pipeline," OEFA said in a statement. German Velasquez, Petroperu's president, said the company was conducting an evaluation of the pipeline, built in the 1970s, to prevent any future spills, a process that could take up to two months.

OEFA says the spills were due to maintenance failures, while Petroperu blames landslides and other natural causes for the mishaps.

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