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Ecuador: Oil spillage impacts Amazon nature reserve

Ecuador: Oil spillage impacts Amazon nature reserve

An oil spill in eastern Ecuador has affected part of a nature reserve in the Amazon rainforest and polluted a major river, the government said Monday.

Ecuador’s Environmental Ministry said nearly two hectares (five acres) of a nature reserve in the Cayambe-Coca National Park were impacted by the spill, which took place along with the Coca River. 

The ministry described the spillage as a major pollution event. 

The spillage poses a threat for the fauna and flora of the area. Cayambe Coca is home several threatened species, including the Andean condor and the military macaw.

“Our staff are monitoring 210 km (130 miles), of the Coca River, and its tributaries, and coordinating containment or remediation where traces are identified,” the ministry said.

The government has sent emergency personnel to ensure safe water supply for the local population.

What caused the oil to spill?

A mudslide on Friday amid heavy rains in the eastern Napo province caused a crude oil pipeline to burst, triggering the spill. The pipeline is owned by the private firm OCP Ecuador, with the company saying it halted pumping oil the following day. 

OCP Ecuador claimed Monday that it contained the “majority” of the oil that flowed out of the pipeline.

Jorge Vugdelija (the company’s president) stated in a statement that “but, we are aware that small traces have reached water bodies, and we are working to it.”

OCP Ecuador was threatened by the Ecuadorian government if it fails to respond to the spillage. OCP Ecuador has promised clean water and assistance to affected communities. 

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In April 2020, a similar oil spillage due to pipeline ruptures took place in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The pollution caused havoc for local indigenous communities that depend on the Coca River as their water source.

Ecuador is the latest Latin American country to be hit with an oil spill, after nearly 12,000 barrels of crude were dumped off the Peruvian coast on January 15. The spill happened during rough seas in the aftermath of a major volcanic eruption and resulting tsunami near Tonga across the Pacific Ocean.

Repsol, a Spanish firm, was blamed by Peru’s government for the environmental disaster that claimed the lives of wildlife and left fishermen without work.

wd/rs (AFP, Reuters)

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