Another day, another Amazon oil spill

PetroPerú tries its hand at environmental devastation. Environmental Health News writes it up in English:

On the last day of June, Roger Mangía Vega watched an oil slick and a mass of dead fish float past this tiny Kukama Indian community and into the Marañón River, a major tributary of the Amazon.

Community leaders called the emergency number for Petroperu, the state-run operator of the 845-kilometer pipeline that pumps crude oil from the Amazon over the Andes Mountains to a port on Peru’s northern coast.

By late afternoon, Mangía and a handful of his neighbors – contracted by the company and wearing only ordinary clothing – were up to their necks in oily water, searching for a leak in the pipe. Villagers, who depend on fish for subsistence and income, estimated that they had seen between two and seven tons of dead fish floating in lagoons and littering the landscape.

“It was the most horrible thing I’ve seen in my life – the amount of oil, the huge number of dead fish and my Kukama brothers working without the necessary protection,” said Ander Ordóñez Mozombite, an environmental monitor for an indigenous community group called Acodecospat who visited the site a few days later.

Read it all here.

And on July 2, PetroEcuador had a freakishly similar situation. Amazon Watch offers the details:

It was July 2nd, and a Petroamazonas pipeline had ruptured, spewing thousands of barrels of crude oil into the Aguarico River. When would the company stop the spill? How poisoned is our water? When will it be safe to bathe, wash clothes, and fish in our river? Will the company clean up the spill? These were the questions on the minds of many of the Cofán, Siona and Secoya people who live downriver from the ruptured pipeline.

But there was silence.

According to community members, neither the state oil company, Petroamazonas, nor the Ecuadorian government sent health officials to visit the downriver villages in the wake of the spill. Rather than provide critical information about the quality of the water that the indigenous communities depend on for their basic needs, the state oil company equivocated about the extent of the spill. Official pronouncements capped the spill at 2000 barrels, of which the majority, they said, had been “contained”; however, a confidential source at Petroamazonas leaked information to the civil society collective, Yasunidos, that more than 785,000 gallons had been spilled. You can read more information from Yasunidos here.

So what kind of emergency response measures did Petroamazonas and the Ecuadorian Government enact in the wake of the spill?

On July 7th representatives from Petroamazonas delivered a bag of groceries to each affected family…

Yes, a fucking bag of groceries. Charming. Read the whole story here.

Back in Peru, yesterday this even more bizarre story came out. Thanks Otto for the heads-up. Allow me to translate:

Amazonas: Apu dies when arguing against oil company

The [indigenous Peruvian] Apu Esteban Reátegui Vásquez (48) died in a surprising way while arguing over the entry of a new oil company into the Chingamar community area of Santamaría de Nieva.

The incident occurred July 19, when the Awuajún leader was to be found in the Jesuit vicarate’s premises to offer his position. While he expounded upon his ideas, he appeared to choke, could not breath, and fell before the surprised participants, who were able to evacuate him to the hospital of Santa María de Nieva.

The attending doctors limited themselves to certifying his death. Family members of the deceased indigenous man were indignant, demanded that an investigation be pursued, and requested aid to give him a Christian funeral.

Suffice to say that the Apu assembly was convened by the Permanent Commission of the Awuajun Wampis indigenous communities, in which there was discussion of the lawsuit being considered against the Peruvian state for allegedly violating the indigenous communities’ rights of prior consultation by allowing the “PACIF RUBIALES ENERGY” oil company to enter the communities’ area.

Ah Pacific Rubiales, you just can’t catch a break.

Have no fear, all these problems will soon be solved, as Colombia is at this very minute announcing the winners of its latest bid round for oil exploration blocks.