Iquitos Water Committee Demands the Stop to Oil Activity in Nanay River Basin

The Iquitos Water Committee is demanding the suspension of oil activities in the Nanay River basin until the public is made aware of the damage caused during oil exploration work done by the company ConocoPhillips on lots 123 and 129.

In a press conference given Monday morning to Congress, representatives of social organizations from Iquitos reiterated that oil activity in the headwaters of the Nanay basin will put the Iquitos water supply at risk.

For this reason the Water Committee spokesman, José Manuyama, said it is necessary to establish a moratorium on extractive activities in the basin of the Nanay. The Nanay is not only the main source of water for the city of Iquitos, but also  home to the Regional Conservation Area Alto Nanay – Pintuyacu – Chambira, which has an enormous wealth of biodiversity.

He added that it is necessary to establish economic and ecological zoning, so as to determine what activities may or may not be developed in the river basin headwaters and in areas with fragile ecosystems.

Elizabeth Lozano, member of the committee, said that representatives of the Water Committee came to Lima so that national authorities would listen to their demands and proposals to solve this problem, since local and regional authorities are not offering solutions.

She stated that since the beginning of the year, the committee has been calling on the Loreto authorities to speak out on the issue and have had no response, despite the fact that the population of Iquitos has carried out two peaceful marches to demand that the Nanay basin be off limits to extractive activities.

The Water Committee spokeswoman said that there will be another demonstration in the city of Iquitos beginning at 08:00 am on Tuesday, September 25th. This demonstration will be in support of the efforts being made by the committee in Lima.

Hilter Panduro, an indigenous representative from Iquitos also expressed his concern about the effects that oil exploration will cause in the basin of the Nanay, not only those related to water supply in the city of Iquitos, but also to the environmental damages and the consequences of that on native communities in the area.

The Iquitos representative said the delegation seeks to find a solution by means of dialogue and hopes that the lack of attention to this problem does not generate a new socio-environmental conflict.

Demand Explanations from the National Service of Protected Natural Areas (SERNANP)

Congresswoman Verónika Mendoza questioned the conduct of SERNANP, a body that initially ruled against oil activities in the Nanay basin and then decided to change its position on the subject.

She stated that SERNANP must disclose the technical studies and reports on which it based its change of decision. The parliamentary accompanied the Water Committee representatives in the press conference this morning in Congress.

The delegation continued their meetings this afternoon before the Commission of Andean, Amazonian and Afro-Peruvian People, Environment and Ecology of Congress. In the coming days it is expected that they will meet with officials from the Agency for Assessment and Environmental Control – OEFA and the Ombudsman, as well as the Ministry of Environment, the National Water Authority – ANA, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the President of Congress, among other authorities.

Deborah Rivett, Tuesday, 25 September 2012