Repsol hopes to move forward quickly to clean up Peru oil spill

Lima, Jan 25 (EFE).- Spain’s Repsol oil company on Tuesday confirmed that it is “collaborating closely” with Peruvian authorities and civil society “to move forward as quickly as possible on addressing the areas affected by the petroleum spill” that occurred on Jan. 15 off the coast of Lima.

The petroleum firm said in a statement that it is “in continuous contact with the communities affected” by the spill “to understand their needs and provide them with the support they need.”

In addition to these initiatives, the firm said it is pursuing “other proposals in accord with the requirements that may contribute to achieving long-term agreements.”

Repsol also said that it has “intensified cooperation” with the Lima “Park of Legends” zoo, where the animals that have been rescued from amid the floating oil are being housed and cared for.

The company also said that it has held meetings with Energy and Mines Minister Eduardo Gonzalez Toro and with the Environmental Assessment and Control Agency (OEFA) to report on the advances made “in all areas of activity” regarding the emergency.

“Repsol is sending information daily to the Environment Ministry and communicating to OEFA on the progress on the timetable presented to the authorities, which forecasts the conclusion of clean-up work by the end of February.”

In that regard, the firm said that currently more than 2,200 people are participating in cleaning up the ocean waters and the Peruvian coast, and they have been joined by 300 members of the Peruvian armed forces with another 225 people to be added on Tuesday.

Involved in these activities are 73 pieces of heavy machinery, nine skimmers for cleaning the ocean waters, 27 large vessels, 90 small vessels and nine floating tanks.

Moreover, the firm has installed containment barriers in the water extending 4.44 kilometers (2.75 miles) between the Cavero and Faro Chancay beaches.

So far, a total of 10,386 cubic meters (some 367,000 cubic feet) of oil-saturated sand, equivalent to more than 2,000 containers, has been recovered and is being treated to remove the oil so that ultimately it can be returned to the beaches.

After stating that it will continue with “ongoing monitoring actions by land, sea and air,” Repsol added that its commitment to the clean-up project “is absolute, as well as (the firm’s) support for the public and attention to the wildlife.”

On Jan. 15, some 6,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the ocean off the Peruvian capital from a vessel that was unloading petroleum into the pipelines at the La Pampilla refinery, which Repsol operates, and over the subsequent days the spill spread over more than 1.8 square km (about 0.7 sq. miles) along the coast and 7.1 sq. km (2.75 sq. mi.) of ocean off Lima and the province of Callao.

In that regard, Prime Minister Mirtha Vasquez said Monday that before deciding whether to suspend the Spanish firm’s operating license, the Peruvian government is evaluating legal issues and sanctions, along with the infractions that Repsol allegedly committed with the spill.

Meanwhile, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo promised the fishermen affected by the spill that the government will ensure that the firm “fulfills its criminal, civil and administrative responsibilities in the ecological disaster.”

A United Nations mission including environmental disaster experts arrived in Lima on Monday to provide technical assistance in managing and coordinating the response to the crisis, as well as preparing effective actions to reduce the risk of such incidents in the future.

Repsol Peru’s communications and institutional relations manager, Tine van den Wall Bake, last Wednesday denied in an interview with RPP Noticias that the company was responsible for the environmental damage caused by the spill, blaming the Peruvian navy for not issuing a tsunami warning in the wake of the previous Saturday’s massive volcanic eruption in faraway Tonga, as neighboring Chile and Ecuador did.

She said that the eruption triggered a tsunami and caused large waves to move across the Pacific Ocean and destabilize the Mare Doricum tanker as the transfer of an oil shipment to the refinery was taking place.

EFE dub/laa/bp

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