The serious oil spill occurred on the Peruvian coast from facilities operated by the Spanish company Repsol is causing a strong political earthquake. The Government continues to show its indignation with what happened and the authorities already warn that the oil company may face a penalty of more than 4 million euros. Meanwhile, the Prosecutor’s Office asks that those responsible for Repsol in Peru be prohibited from leaving the country.
The Peruvian Prosecutor’s Office requested this Thursday to the Judiciary to prevent the departure of the country for 18 months of the executive director of Repsol in that country, Jaime Fernández-Cuesta, and three other directors for the spill that occurred on January 15 on the coast center of the country.
The events occurred that day when, due to the waves caused by the eruption of the Tonga volcano, thousands of kilometers away, an oil tanker accidentally spilled 6,000 barrels of oil into the sea off Lima, causing what the Peruvian government has described as “the greatest environmental disaster in recent years”. 50 kilometers of coastline are invaded by the oil slick and a large human team continues to tirelessly clean up the spill.
As reported by the Judiciary, the request of the Public Ministry was going to be evaluated this Thursday in the Temporary Preparatory Investigation Court of the Puente Piedra-Ventanilla Court.
In addition to the head of the Spanish company in Peru, the prosecutor’s request also includes the head of Maritime Terminal 2 of the La Pampilla Refinery, Renzo Tejada Mackenzie, responsible for the facility where the oil tanker Mare Doricum unloaded its crude when the accident.
Also included in the request to prevent them from leaving the country are the managers of Repsol in Peru for Environmental Quality, Cecilia Posadas Jhong; and for Production, José Reyes Ruiz.
Alleged crime of environmental pollution
This request comes after the Lima Northwest Specialized Environmental Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation against representatives of the La Pampilla Refinery, operated by Repsol, for the alleged crime of environmental pollution due to the oil spill that caused the greatest environmental catastrophe of recent times on the Peruvian coast.
To date, the crude oil spill has affected approximately 50 kilometers of the Peruvian coast, especially on the beaches of Ventanilla, in Callao, a region bordering Lima, while in terms of surface it already covers eight square kilometers, most of them in water, and has reached two nature reserves.
The Minister of the Environment, Rubén Ramírez, announced the day before that the Attorney General’s Office (Advocacy) of his portfolio was evaluating requesting precautionary measures against Repsol representatives and specified that “possibly” one of them would also be the impediment to leaving the country.
“We are going to have to act with a heavy hand, this damage is to all Peruvians and to the whole world”, said the minister.
On the other hand, the Agency for Environmental Assessment and Control (OEFA), attached to the Ministry of the Environment, announced that it has initiated a process to fine Repsol, after the company failed to comply with the first measure imposed to clean up the oil spill.
As stated in a press conference by the president of the OEFA, Miriam Alegría, the Spanish company could face economic sanctions of up to 18 million soles (€4.2 million).
Repsol has assured, for its part, that it is “collaborating closely” with civil society and the Peruvian authorities “to advance as quickly as possible in the recovery of the areas affected by the oil spill.”
The spill occurred on Saturday, January 15, coinciding with the arrival on the Peruvian coast of the tsunami caused by the submarine volcanic eruption in Tonga, which caused an unusual rise in sea level at the time the ship ‘Mare Doricum’ unloaded almost one million barrels to the La Pampilla Refinery.
This circumstance occurred without there being a tsunami alert on the Peruvian coast, as was the case in other neighboring countries of the Pacific, supposedly caused the breakage of the ship’s starboard moorings and with it a leak in the system of hoses and pipes that connected the ship with the refinery to transfer the crude oil.
In the first moment, Repsol classified the emergency as a minor incident and only reported the loss of 0.16 barrels to the Peruvian authorities. (about 25 liters), so the magnitude of the spill was not publicly known until the next day, when the oil began to flood the beaches.
Protests in Spain
Meanwhile, Peruvian activists and members of the environmental movement in Spain gathered yesterday Thursday in front of Repsol’s Madrid headquarters in protest against the oil spill at the La Pampilla refinery.
The nearly one hundred environmentalists who are members of different Peruvian and Spanish groups — Ecologists in Action, Extinction Rebellion and with Fridays for Future, among others — denounce the “lack of a forceful response” by Repsol against the “ecocide” of the spill Started on January 15.
slogans like “Repsol take charge” or “death is not paid”, They have been heard in front of the company’s offices, where the activists, summoned by the Kunturcanqui Collective, have demanded “a sanction” for the oil company, which they demand not only clean the crude, but also repair the damage caused in the coast.
“An Unpredictable Phenomenon”
The Spanish multinational Repsol attributed this Thursday the spill of 6,000 barrels of oil into the sea of Peru to “an unpredictable maritime phenomenon” caused by the volcanic eruption in Tonga last Saturday.
The company regretted “not having adequately transmitted” all the commitments and actions taken to address the impact of the spill, and expressed its solidarity with the affected populations, as well as its “special feeling” for the natural environments and marine species affected.
Repsol insisted in its statement that, from the moment of the “accident”, he activated his contingency plan, which began with the closing of the valves to stop the pumping of oil from the ship to the refinery facilities.
Later, the company indicated that it deployed a team of divers to determine the possible effects on the underwater bottom and extended more than 2,500 meters of containment barriers that cover the areas detected so far.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.