Commission Enters Oil Block 8x, Searching for Evidence of Contamination

Recently, four indigenous Environmental Monitors from the Cocama-Cocamilla Association for Development and Conservation in San Pablo Tipishca (ACODECOSPAT), accompanied by Alianza Arkana, spent four grueling days trekking along the oil pipeline that runs through the notorious oil block 8x, trudging through waste-high water that reeked of petroleum, documenting evidence of oil spills. They found plenty, and took GPS coordinates to mark the places they spotted visible contamination.

ACODECOSPAT has repeatedly issued complaints regarding the grave environmental situation in Lot 8x, and this mission only proved their claims.

Today, ACODECOSPAT Environmental Monitors, armed with the coordinates taken during the recent reconnaissance mission, accompanied a small delegation of governmental experts into the field. The lot is situated in the heart of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, Peru’s largest protected area which lies within Cocama-Cocamilla ancestral territory.

The delegation includes the Ministry of the Environment-MINAM, the Environmental Assessment and Oversight Agency-OEFA, the National Water Authority-ANA, the Energy and Mining Investment Supervisory Board-OSINERGMIN, and the National Nature Conservation Authority-SERNAP. The data collected by ACODECOSPAT’s Environmental Monitors will guide the delegation in georeferencing points of contamination for official use, in preparation for Multisectoral Commission N°200-2012-PCM’s imminent visit to the Marañon River basin.

Multisectoral Commission N°200-2012-PCM was established in June of 2012 to analyze contamination in the Pastaza, Tigre, Corrientes, and Marañon River basins and formulate a comprehensive plan to address environmental and human health concerns. In February 2013 the Commission publicly released the results of testing in the Pastaza: the levels of toxic heavy metals and TPH (Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons) were so high that the government declared an environmental state of emergency.  The Commission has completed testing in the Tigre and Corrientes River basins, with the publication of results pending. Its final stop will be the Marañon.

In December of 2012, ACODECOSPAT released a document stating: “We denounce our abandonment by the state, evidenced by the complicity of SERNAP and Chief of the Pacaya Samiria in Pluspetrol’s attempt to hide the damage it’s done.”

This year marks 42 years of oil activity in the lot. Pluspetrol’s reign began in 1996.

Deborah Rivett, Friday, 19 July 2013

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