According to Ecuador’s environment ministry, an oil spillage in eastern Ecuador has contaminated a river that supplies water for Indigenous communities.
The ministry stated Monday that nearly two hectares (5 acres) of protected Cayambe Coca National Park were contaminated. They also contaminated the Coca River, one of the largest in Ecuadorian Amazon.
The park covers approximately 400,000 hectares (988.420 acres). It is home to many animals, including red brocket and amphibians. It also has important water reserves.
On Friday, heavy rains caused a mudslide within the eastern Napo Province. A rock struck and ruptured an OCP Ecuador pipeline.
OCP Ecuador and neither the government nor OCP Ecuador have quantified the spillage, but the environmental authority described it as a major polluting incident.
Ministry said that their staff are monitoring 210 kilometres (130 mi) of the Coca River, its tributaries, and coordinating containment as well as remediation when hydrocarbon traces are identified.
Operator OCP Ecuador claimed that it had stopped importing crude oil on Saturday. The next day, however, it stated that it had contracted three companies to clean and remediate the site.
We have been polluted once again, and we are fighting about this with OCP, Patricia Vargas who heads the Panduyaku indigenous community in Ecuadors Sucumbios said to the Reuters news agency.
The oil is already on the banks at the Coca River, and we need to act immediately, she stated.
The development comes amid rising concerns about illegal logging and crude oil, which are wreaking havoc upon the rainforests of the region, which in turn has harmed the environment.
Activists have been urging governments to do more in order to protect endangered wildlife and Indigenous communities which rely on the land for their survival.
The spillage of the pipeline comes after a massive oil leak in Peru earlier in the month that saw approximately 11,900 barrels oil seep into seawater. Officials stated that the cleanup of the disaster caused by a volcanic eruption in Tonga would take several weeks.
Regressive erosion along the Coca River in Ecuador has been a problem since 2020. This has affected both the state-owned SOTE and the OCP pipelines.
Due to the issue, both pipelines were shut down for pumping in December. The government declared force majeure over most of the country’s oil exports, and production contracts.
OCPs pipelines can transport up 450,000 barrels per day from the Amazon to ports along the country’s Pacific coast. However, the company only extracted 160,000 barrels between January 2021 and November 2021.
One thousand barrels of oil were polluting three Amazon Basin rivers in May 2020 after a mudslide. This affected several riverside communities.
The ministry announced Monday that OCP Ecuador has been subject to administrative and legal actions. It also requested that OCP Ecuador conduct a thorough investigation to determine the spillage impact.
According to local communities, oil was found on the banks of the Coca Rivers. Indigenous organizations and environmental NGOs also want more information.
The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, CONFENIAE, stated via Twitter that they demand information about the spillage and the process of delivering water and food to the communities.
The group stated that it was clear that river water could not be used or consumed.