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Major Oil Spill in Ecuador Damages Rainforest and Reaches River

3 Mins read

An oil pipeline in Ecuador ruptured over the weekend, spilling an undisclosed amount of crude oil into Yasuni National Park.

Footage of the rupture was obtained by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), an advocacy group, and posted on social media. The sad video footage shows oil spraying out of the pipeline, hurting the environment and we posted it on our Instagram account recently.

More Beautiful Land Being Damaged by Oil

The rainforest that is affected spans over 6,100 square miles between the Napo and Curaray rivers in Napo and Pastaza provinces in Amazonian Ecuador. It lies deep in the heart of the Amazon basin, in the shadows of the Andes and below the equator. It is home to one of the most diverse collections of plants and animals on the planet and is said to leave visitors in awe of its beauty.

The life that bursts in the forest includes humongous kapok trees, jumping spider monkeys, squawking toucans, big tarantulas, and even fierce jaguars.

Yasuni is also rich in oil. The highly sought-after resource has been taken through the OCP pipeline and then pumped hundreds of miles to a maritime terminal. The OCP pipeline pumps about 450,000 barrels of crude per day.

This oil is then exported around the world, but about 66 percent goes to the US. Most of that to the state of California.

Unfortunately, that pipe burst on Friday, and residents are saying the pollution has now reached the Coca River. It’s being reported that thousands of liters are still pouring in.

This creates a huge problem because 27,000 Indigenous Kichwa people live on the river and more than 60,000 people depend on its water.

Leaders and Conservationists are understandably upset as they watch communities continue to be damaged from the incident. This is the second major oil spill in the Ecuadorian Amazon in just two years. The last one was in April 2020 and indigenous people are still suffering from its impact.

Who’s To Blame?

The pipeline was constructed by OCP Ecuador which is blaming the damage on a rock fall that was caused by erosion.

The company also says that it immediately started clean up, environmental remediation, and the repair of the pipeline. It claims that all necessary actions to avoid, reduce, mitigate, and repair any impact related is being done so that the oil cannot contaminate any bodies of water.

Human rights group, Amazon Fronlines, say that OCP Ecuador is lying and that they knowingly endangered Kichwa communities.

What Is Being Done?

The environment ministry says investigation and cleanup efforts are underway — But sadly, this is just the beginning of a long road ahead for residents and their leaders.

CONAIE says the incident is another example of why they oppose oil extraction. Spills have become part of locals’ everyday lives. The companies apologize and say the right things but the indigenous people have to live with the effects on their homeland for decades.

Thankfully, there are organizations that are noticing and fighting for the human rights of the communities that are affected … But no real change will happen unless the government puts a halt on oil expansion plans and makes sure pollution is properly cleaned.

At Karmagawa and SaveTheReef, we’re so disheartened for the communities that are experiencing this mess. These spills are happening way too often and at times it feels like a losing battle, trying to stop it from happening again. We need more voices to join us as we get the message out. We have to speak loudly, so that leaders finally do things that make a difference.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram and stay informed of what is happening to animals and the environment all around the world.

Also … please spread our information so that your friends and family are aware, as well.

Have them watch this powerful video …

The director of this video, Amir Zakeri, created a masterclass for anyone in the Karmagawa and SaveTheReef community who would like to tell visual stories about the causes they care about. If you’re interested, here’s 50% off.  

All proceeds go to great causes, so don’t hesitate. Get started now

What do you think about this latest spill that is hurting a unique rainforest? What can we do to stop oil extraction from areas that need protection? Leave a comment below.

(Cover Image: Dr Morley Read/Shutterstock)

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