Disasters & Accidents

Oil from Ecuador pipeline break pollutes nearby river

Quito, Jan 28 (EFE).- Indigenous leaders and environmentalists in the Ecuadorian Amazon said Saturday that oil released by the rupture of a pipeline is flowing into the Coca River.

Pablo Fajardo, an attorney who sued oil giant Texaco (now a unit of Chevron) of behalf of communities damaged by drilling operations, told Efe that residents spotted oil in the water.

Globs oil are visible in “videos from the Panduyacu community, which is on the banks of the Coca River and is one of the closest” settlements to the site of the break in the OCP pipeline, he said.

The lawyer called for an investigation of the breach, questioning OCP’s account that the pipeline was damaged by a rockslide due to erosion.

“There are people who say there was company machinery working in the area,” Fajardo said, criticizing OCP and state oil company Petroecuador for recurring episodes of pollution in the Amazon region.

Noting that Ecuador’s constitution establishes rights for nature, he said prosecutors should bring charges for “an offense against the water.”

OCP said Friday that the spill had been contained and that the affected section of the pipeline was not directly exposed to any rivers.

The environment ministry said that an investigation and cleanup efforts were under way.

President Guillermo Lasso’s office said that the accident did not affect oil exports, which are a key source hard currency for Ecuador.

The country produces roughly 530,000 barrels per day of heavy crude. EFE fa/dr

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