3/01/2016

Amazon River Polluted

At least 3,000 barrels of crude oil have been spilled in an Amazonian region after leaks from Peru's main oil pipeline, the state oil company said.

The Amazon River in South America is the largest river by discharge of water in the world, and the second in length. 

The Amazon averages a discharge of about 209,000 cubic meters per second, approximately 6,591 cubic kilometers per year which is greater than the next seven largest independent rivers combined. 

The Amazon basin is the largest drainage basin in the world, with an area of approximately 7,050,000 square kilometers (2,720,000 sq mi), and accounts for roughly one-fifth of the world's total river flow. 
  
The oil has polluted two rivers that at least eight indigenous communities rely on for water, the government and indigenous leaders said.

Petroperu has promised a full clean-up and is also providing food and water.

The company said the first leak was triggered by a landslide but the cause of the second rupture was unclear.

The oil has poured into the Chiriaco and Morona rivers in northwestern Peru, the government's environment watchdog, OEFA, said.

The spill is affecting the Achuar community and heavy rains have hampered efforts to contain it, local indigenous leader Edwin Montenegro said.

Peru's health ministry has declared a water quality emergency in five districts and OEFA officials said Petroperu could face fines of up to $17m (£12m) if the spills were found to have affected local people's health.

In a statement, OEFA said the spills were "not isolated cases" and ordered the company to replace parts of the pipeline and improve maintenance.

Petroperu president German Velasquez also denied reports the company had paid children to clean up the thick sludge.

However, Mr Velasquez said he was considering firing four company officials, one of whom may have allowed children to collect oil.

The company was evaluating the 1970s-built pipeline to prevent future spills, he said.

The leaks have stopped the transportation of up to 6,000 barrels of oil a day.
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