Lima, Jan 20 (EFE).- Peru is demanding compensation from Spanish oil giant Repsol to cover the clean-up costs of a crude oil spill from one of its refineries near the capital Lima over the weekend.
Six thousand barrels of crude oil spilled from the plant on Saturday, coating 18,000 square meters of coastline and sea in sludge that has blackened beaches and killed marine animals.
Local authorities accuse Repsol of not having a contingency plan in place.
“We have seen workers contracted by the company collecting the black petrol foam that is coming from the sea and depositing it in holes dug in the sand,” Daniel Olivares, a former lawmaker and now head of the environmental group Oceana Peru, told Efe at Cavero beach, to the north of the capital.
“I don’t understand how they are allowed to do that,’ he added.
Activists, ecological groups and volunteers have also arrived at the affected areas to help with the clean-up effort.
“The situation is terrible,” Virgo Gálvez, a member of the Colitas Felices environmental group, told Efe while holding a seabird covered in oil. “We are trying to help the animals breathe, give them first aid, but they can’t hang on, they are dead.”
Peruvian authorities have pointed the finger directly at Repsol.
In a tweet published Wednesday, the country’s ministry of foreign affairs said: “The Repsol oil spill in Ventanilla is the worst ecological disaster to occur in Lima in recent history and has gravely threatened the livelihood of hundreds of fishing families.”
“Repsol must immediately compensate for this damage.”
Amid a slew of criticism and calls for compensation, Repsol said it did not cause the ecological disaster, blaming the Peruvian navy for not issuing a tsunami warning in the wake of the volcanic eruption in Tonga, which caused freak waves as oil was being transferred from a ship to the refinery.
Others have asked why the navy did not issue a tsunami warning, unlike its counterparts in neighboring Chile and Ecuador.
“Why can’t we have an orderly state that tells us there will be a tsunami and that oil cannot be transferred,” Olivares said. EFE