Peru oil spill caused by Tonga waves is ‘ecological disaster’

Bird covered in oil dead on his back on beach, animal news
A dead bird lies on a beach after oil spill caused by abnormal waves, Ventanilla, Peru, January 18, 2022, credit: Reuters/Pilar Olivares

An oil spill in Peru caused by the explosion last Friday of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano near Tonga is an “ecological disaster,” the Peruvian government said on Wednesday.

The government said that the oil spill had harmed and killed animals and plants in protected zones over a combined area of around 18,000 square kilometers (6,950 square miles) and fishing regions.

The eruption of the Tonga volcano caused tsunamis in neighbouring countries and high waves in Peru. A ship leaving the La Pampilla refinery, managed by Spanish oil company Repsol, spilled crude oil off the coast of the Callao region near Lima.

“We estimate that there has been a spill of 6,000 barrels of oil. Today we flew [over the affected area] to determine the environmental damage,” Peruvian Environment minister Ruben Ramirez said

“We saw that not only beaches such as Cavero, Bahia Blanca are affected, but that part of the oil also affected Ancon [beach],” Ramirez said.

The government blames Repsol for the oil spill and has opened an investigation. “This is the worst ecological disaster that has occurred around Lima in recent times and has seriously damaged hundreds of fishermen’s families. Repsol must immediately compensate for the damage,” the environment ministry said on Twitter.

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