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