The impact of the volcanic explosion in the Nation of Tonga continues to come to light as Peru reports a new massive oil spill caused by waves from the disastrous event.
In our last article, we talked about the volcanic explosion which experts are calling the biggest in more than 30 years. All the homes on one of Tonga’s small outer islands have been destroyed and three people have been confirmed dead so far. Communication and transportation have been severely disrupted and many people are facing a tough road of recovery ahead.
As if that wasn’t enough, freak waves from the eruption hit an oil refinery in Peru and caused an oil spill that is being described as the worst ecological disaster for the South American country in its recent history.
Take a look at these horrible pictures which we posted on Instagram recently:
How Bad Is the Oil Spill?
Officials blocked off three beaches on Monday because 6,000 barrels of oil spilled off of a tanker at the La Pampilla refinery right off the coast near Lima.
As you can see in the images above, once beautiful beaches have been blackened. Animals and plants in protected areas over a combined area of over 11,000 miles have been harmed.
Fishing is an important industry for the areas affected and the incident has devastated hundreds of fishers’ families.
Peruvian authorities are understandably upset and are demanding Repsol, the Spanish oil giant, to compensate the country for the incredible damage.
Repsol initially described the spill as limited and said it was working to clean up the mess but the effects were much more than was being claimed. Public outcry from locals rose over the company’s slow response and Prime Minister Mirtha Vasquez told reporters that the oil company didn’t have a contingency plan to mitigate damages.
Environmental Groups Are Getting Involved
Peruvian leadership and residents aren’t the only ones complaining about the company’s response. Environmental organizations are raising their voices as well.
As the oil spreads along Peru’s Pacific coast, animals such as dolphins, otters, birds, seagulls, and sea lions are paying a heavy price. Conservationists are saying that the short and long term impact of the oil spill is devastating.
A large part of Peru’s biodiverse regions have been damaged, including two protected areas. The heavy metals from the crude oil will remain in the ecosystem long after the news stops covering what happened. The fish and other marine species will be too dangerous for human consumption, affecting the fishing community for years.
What Happens Now?
A spokesperson for Repsol named Tim Van Den Wall Bake has denied that the company should be held responsible. The company is calling the incident an ecological disaster and says that the company shouldn’t be blamed.
The Peruvian environment ministry reports that an investigation into the company for environmental contamination has been opened and the refindery could face up to $34.5 million in fines.
In the meantime, Osinergmin — the energy and mining regulation body — has ordered a suspension of operations at the refinery so that an investigation can be done into what really lead to the spill.
At Karmagawa and SaveTheReef we’re so disheartened that we have to keep doing articles on events like this. So many animals and our beautiful beaches and oceans continue to suffer because of oil spills around the world. These events leave deadly marks in areas that they affect for years.
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What do you think about the oil spill that happened in Peru? Do you think the company should be held responsible? Leave a comment below.
(Cover Image: ohrim/Shutterstock)