Alarming Environmental Situation on the Tigres River Basin in the Peruvian Amazon

Translated from Solsticio Peru

Oil spills that were never declared by Pluspetrol North, inoperative oil installations that do not have proper closure plans, ducts and pipes in poor condition, and water bodies with the presence of heavy metals and total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) above permitted levels were found by State supervisory organizations after conducting environmental monitoring in the Tigre river basin in the Peruvian Amazon.

This information was presented to the board of the Federation of Native Communities of the Upper Tigre (FECONAT) and officials from OEFA, ANA, OSINERGMIN, and DIGESA during a meeting held on Wednesday at the facilities of the Research Institute of the Peruvian Amazon (IIAP) in the city of Iquitos.

At that meeting, the repesentaties from OEFA noted that of the 59 points where monitoring was conducted only two were declared by Pluspetrol and correspond to environmental plans, while the remaining 57 are not listed in any document for petroleum management.

They added that in 56 of these locations pollution levels exceed maximum allowable limits for both the presence of heavy metals and total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH). OEFA noted that the information has been delivered to the appropriate bodies to determine administrative proceedings against the company.

Meanwhile OSINERGMIN reported that during its visit to impacted areas, as identified by FECONAT, it was found that many pipelines, flowlines and supports were exposed without any protection, which could facilitate corrosion.

They also confirmed the existence of at least 10 inoperative wells that do not have the proper abandonment plans.

According to the officials of OSINERGMIN, in light of the results of the environmental monitoring conducted last June, they have begun a sanctioning procedure against the company.

In turn, the representatives of the National Water Authority (ANA) indicated that monitoring was done at 45 points, of which 39 contained levels of lead exceeding the environmental quality standards for water. The same was found in one site where the presence of chlorides exceeds maximum limits.

In the case of sediments, they reported that in at least four of the monitored points TPH levels exceed the recommended intervention levels and 10 others exceed the optimum value put forth by the Dutch guide.

Among their recommendations, they indicated that it is necessary to prioritize treatment and / or remediation activities in the areas of San Jacinto, Shiviyacu, Forestry and Marseille, which are most greatly affected.

In the case of water quality for human consumption, DIGESA noted that in almost all monitoring points the water is unfit for human consumption due to high concentration levels of TPH, the presence of heavy metals and coliforms.

DIGESA: General Board for Environmental Health
OSINERGMIN: Supervisory Organization for Energy and Mining Investment
OEFA: Organization for Environmental Evaluation and Fiscalization

Deborah Rivett, Monday, 14 October 2013