Indigenous Federation ACODECOSPAT Holds Press Conference on Oil Contamination in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

ACODECOSPAT, the indigenous federation representing 57 Cocama-Cocamilla communities living in the Marañon River basin, held a press conference this morning to disseminate their documentation of the copious oil spilled in block 8x. A governmental commission of environmental experts is scheduled to enter the oil concession within the next few weeks, to take soil and water samples.

Oil block 8x is situated within the borders of Peru’s largest protected area, the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, and overlaps the ancestral territory of the Cocama-Cocamilla. For years, ACODECOSPAT has issued complaints denouncing the spills and the negligence of Pluspetrol Norte, the Argentine company that currently operates in the concession, in addressing the contamination.

During this morning’s event, Cocama-Cocamilla environmental monitor Ander Ordoñez presented photographic evidence of oil spills at several points of rupture along the pipeline that runs through block 8x. ACODECOSPAT screened a video shot on a recent reconnaissance mission to block 8x, featuring Mr. Ordonez standing knee deep in a series of oil lakes, kneeling by cracks in the pipelines where oil has seeped like blood through a bandage, pooling and spreading through the forest, and pointing to dead frogs and insects coated in crude oil. Standing amidst the environmental ruin, Mr. Ordoñez highlights the presence of both fresh spills and historical contamination that Pluspetrol has never adequately addressed. The indigenous federation also displayed a map of Pacaya Samiria National Reserve with GPS coordinates marking points of contamination from the last forty years of oil activity. Alfonso Lopez Tejada, the president of ACODECOSPAT, followed up the presentation with a moving appeal:

“All those in favor of the extractive industries should come live with us. They should drink the water we drink, breathe the air we breathe, come live in our communities, and feel the suffering that we feel. They should eat the fruit grown in our sick and contaminated mother earth. ”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUwqkeFQeT4

A multisectoral commission created in June of 2012 to analyze and address contamination caused by oil activity in four key river basins in the Peruvian Amazon, is scheduled to enter the Marañon River basin by mid September. The commission, comprised of a cadre of governmental environmental experts, was established in response to various indigenous groups mobilizing a week long protest last year- a turning point after decades of unheeded requests that the government address the contamination. The commission was tasked with obtaining and analyzing soil and water samples from the Pastaza, Tigre, Corrientes, and Marañon River basins, and subsequently creating a plan for remediation and programs to address the human health disaster created by the contamination.

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Thus far, the commission has released the shocking results of its testing in the Pastaza and Corrientes River basins; results from the Tigre are pending release. The Marañon is the last of the four river basins the commission will enter. Levels of toxic heavy metals and TPH (total petroleum hydrocarbons) found in the Pastaza were so high that the government declared an environmental state of emergency when results were released in February of this year. Results from testing in the Corrientes were published in late August, with equally distressing levels of soil and water contamination.

ACODECOSPAT (Asociación Cocama de Conservación San Pablo de Tipishca) is an indigenous federation that represents 57 Cocama-Cocamilla communities. It has for the past thirteen years dedicated its efforts to defending the collective rights, the territory, and the culture of the Cocama-Cocamilla people.

Deborah Rivett, Wednesday, 04 September 2013

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