Once again, Argentine oil firm Pluspetrol has been implicated in an oil spill in the long active and strategically important Lot 8X, located in the heart of one of Peru’s biggest and most biodiverse protected areas-the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. The firm has also been accused of carrying out illegal remediation and deforesting 4 hectares without authorization.
On the 4th of December, indigenous environmental monitors from the Cocama-Cocamilla Association for the Development and Conservation of San Pablo Tipishcha (ACODECOSPAT), accompanied by representatives from Peru’s National Service for Protected Areas (SERNAMP), entered the contaminated zone to inspect the spill, which monitors estimate occurred in November. The spill is located between kilometers 7 and 8 along the pipeline, in a zone that had just recently been impacted by another spill, registered in July and publicly denounced in September by ACODECOSPAT.
Environmental authorities observed both the spill and Pluspetrol’s unsanctioned attempt to mitigate it. With its marshy, filtering soils known as aguajal, the zone is difficult to access. With the area impacted by the current rainy season, the hydrocarbons are rapidly expanding.
It appears that this new spill could be attributed to the poor condition of the oil pipelines or by Pluspetrol’s attempt to remediate the causes of the initial spill several months earlier.
San José de Saramuro community member and ACODECOSPAT environmental monitor Pío Quinto indicated that upon arriving at the impacted zone it was possible to see crude oil in oil drums. “They have them stacked up,” Quinto said. Upon entering the area, the environmental monitors discovered only two Pluspetrol guards and/or technicians, despite the large size of the camp the firm had installed in the zone.
When SERNAMP and ACODECOSPAT entered Lot 8X, they discovered that Pluspetrol had deforested approximately 4 hectares in their attempt to remediate the oil spill the company had caused. The deforestation had been carried out without the knowledge of the maximum authority of the reserve. It was in fact, the environmental monitors of ACODECOSPAT that advised the maximum authority of the reserve of the spill and deforestation.