Saturday’s environmental emergency was declared by Peru to combat an oil spillage caused by freak waves in the South Pacific by a volcanic eruption.
A powerful eruption at an undersea volcano close to Tonga on Saturday unleashed tsunamis across the Pacific and the United States.
The oil spillage near Lima in Peru has contaminated beaches, killed birds, and damaged the tourism and fishing industries.
The government announced that it will “sustainable manage” 21 beaches that were tarred by the 6,000 barrels oil spilled from a tanker vessel unloading at a refinery last weekend.
The decree aims to improve coordination between the different agencies and teams that work in the aftermath of disasters, according to the environment ministry.
Roberto Sanchez, Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister, estimated Saturday that economic losses total over $50 million across all sectors.
Repsol, the Spanish energy giant, is demanding damages from the government.
According to the environment ministry, the spillage affected 174 hectares or 270 football pitches of beaches, sea, and natural resources.
Peru oil spillage blamed on volcanic eruption waves in Tonga
Crews worked for days to clean up the spillage.
However, the ministry stated that it issued the emergency decree as the crude in the water was still spreading. The incident occurred 40 kilometers (25 mi) away from the original spot.
The environment ministry stated that the spillage was a sudden event with significant impacts on the coastal marine ecosystem. This ecosystem is home to major biological diversity.
Repsol is responsible for emergency cleanup operations in the near term, according to the company.
The refinery can be found in Ventanilla near Lima.
Repsol claims that the eruption caused the freak waves that led to the spillage.
Although the company claims it is not responsible for the accident, it also says that the government did not warn of the possibility of rough waters following the undersea blast.
Repsol released a statement on Saturday describing the cleanup operation of 1,350 people using big-rig trucks and skimmers as well as floating containment barriers and other equipment.
Repsol stated it is “deploying every effort to attend to the remediation” of the spillage.
Peru’s tourism industry has also suffered, with everything from restaurants to beach umbrella rentals and food and beverage sales made by vendors.
“In a normal year, five million people visit the affected beaches between January (during Peru’s Summer) and March (during Peru’s Winter). Sanchez stated that the economic losses are immense and that the tourism industry was “mortally injured”.
The crew of larger vessels fishing on the high seas continued their work at the Ancon pier north of Lima. However, the fish stalls were empty because there were no customers.
Giovana Rugel (52), who sells fish at Ancon’s entrance, said that fish is the most attractive thing about the Ancon pier.
Last week, fishermen and other locals who depend on tourism and the sea protested the sudden loss in their livelihoods.