Medio ambiente

Peru declares water quality emergency in oil spill-hit Amazon districts

Lima, Feb 18 (EFE).- Peru's government has declared a 90-day water quality emergency in several northern jungle districts where two oil spills occurred due to ruptures of a pipeline operated by state-owned oil company Petroperu.

The General Directorate of Environmental Health, or Digesa, in a resolution published Wednesday in the El Peruano official gazette, decreed the health emergency in the Amazonas region's Imaza district and in the Morona, Manseriche, Barranca, Pastaza and Cahuapana districts, which are located in Datem de Marañon province, part of the Loreto region.

The resolution requires more frequent health monitoring of potable water supply systems - in coordination with the regional health directorates in Amazonas and Loreto - while the health emergency decree is in effect.

It also urges municipal, provincial and regional authorities to undertake the necessary actions to eliminate the health risk generated by the oil spills in their jurisdictions.

The resolution said the rivers affected by the spills were sources of potable water and fish for Amazon Indian settlements on their banks.

The first rupture of the North Peruvian Pipeline occurred on Jan. 25 in the municipality of Imaza-Chiriaco, Amazonas region, where between 2,000 and 3,000 barrels of crude were spilled over the three days it took Petroperu to repair the conduit.

The spilled oil affected the Inayo, Chiriaco and Marañon (an Amazon tributary) rivers and the Suashapea, Pakunt, Chiriaco, Nuevo Progreso, Nazareth and Nuevo Horizonte indigenous communities, Digesa's resolution said.

The second spill occurred on Feb. 3 in Datem del Marañon province and resulted in oil reaching the Mayuriaga River and then the Morona River, a Marañon tributary.

The amount of oil spilled in that breach of the same pipeline remains unclear because Petroperu did not indicate the amount lost in the environmental emergency report it submitted to the Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement, or OEFA.

The North Peruvian Pipeline transports oil extracted from fields in the Peruvian Amazon to the Pacific port of Bayovar along a 854-kilometer (530-mile) route.