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Peru: Damaged sea area equals to 10,000 stadiums

Photo: ANDINA/Jhonel Rodríguez

Photo: ANDINA/Jhonel Rodríguez

16:00 | Lima, Jan. 22.

The sea area damaged by the oil spill on the Peruvian central coast is equivalent to what 10,000 stadiums can store together; besides, crude could reach northern Piura region if it is not remedied as soon as possible, marine scientist Morikawa Sakura warned on Saturday.

The expert in recovery of natural habitats expressed his concern about "the slowness" of remediation actions by both the State and the Repsol company.

Within this framework, Sakura warned that crude oil continues to flow along the coast and was already detected in Barranca sea area —some 200 kilometers north of Lima.

"Crude oil is already in Barranca, more than 200 kilometers away. If a contingency plan is not crafted, it (oil) will end up in Piura within four to five days. The action must be immediate. Repsol has the equipment, the State has the equipment and systems, but unfortunately they have not used them. The Government, the Navy, and the company must be asked for an explanation," he told RPP Noticias.

According to the scientist, the damage covers an area compared to 10,000 stadiums.

"If we are talking about crude oil already flowing into Barranca, that would be the comparison measure," Sakura noted.

"People cannot wait any longer," he added, since crude oil not only affects the sea surface, but also the seabed as it can settle, and what has settled can no longer be collected. 

"We are talking about many meters under the sea," the expert pointed out.

"The oil spilled by Repsol has irreparably damaged the sea surface, such as plankton, one of the most important resources for feeding our marine biodiversity," he emphasized.

Marine fauna

Sakura, who is also a specialist in bioresources and environmental technology, affirmed another consequence of the spill is that the population will not be able to eat fish from Ventanilla beaches or other affected areas because said product is already contaminated after having consumed crude oil.

Likewise, he highlighted the work of volunteers who come to the beaches to clean them up, despite the fact that they had been warned that it is not a simple cleanup, as the oil is made up of highly toxic components which quickly irritate eyes, nose, mouth, and throat. It causes skin allergies as well.

"I call on the population to be very careful because crude oil has high toxic components. People who come to the beaches to clean them up must be fully equipped with category 3 protection gear," he indicated.

Moreover, the scientist called on citizens of goodwill who intend to save the little animals found covered in crude oil not to pick them up with their hands, as they have a different pH, which can cause stress and even death.

Thus, the expert recommended trying to catch them with cloth, put them in a box, and take them to a marine species veterinarian.

"Don't even think about taking them home and washing them with detergent or soap. That can kill them immediately," he warned.

Morikawa Sakura has a background in wetland and lake remediation and decontamination, with principles of biotechnology and nanotechnology.

On January 15, an oil spill was reported at La Pampilla refinery facilities, owned by Spanish company Repsol. The event has contaminated part of the Peruvian coastline from Callao to Barranca, causing serious pollution damage to the sea and its marine fauna.


Publicado: 22/1/2022