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Oil spill in the Amazon
6/23/2010
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Tanker leaks 400 gallons of oil on key jungle river.

An oil tanker hired by Argentine oil company Pluspetrol has spilled some 400 gallons of oil into the Marañón River in northeastern Peru. Pluspetrol has said the spill is now under control and that it has been investigating.

The Loreto provincial prosecutor and a prosecutor specializing in indigenous issues have opened their own investigation into the spill.

Mayor of Loreto´s Parinari district, Carmen Cardenas Mozombite, has said she will sue the company if it does not clean up any damage caused by the spill.

Dozens of spills in Perus oil-rich Amazon over the past few decades have fueled tensions between local indigenous communities, oil companies and the government. Native peoples of this region have long-opposed oil development near their native lands. Some have fought to document the damage and others have complained of health complications they blame on oil. A government study four years ago found high blood lead levels in communities living along the Rio Corrientes, in northeastern Peru, near several major oil pumping operations and home to many Achuar indigenous communities.

Peru´s government is eager to auction off new oil and gas blocks and has most of the available lots already under contract, mostly with foreign oil companies.

In June 2009, opposition from native communities to a series of investment decrees that would have eased restrictions on investing in the Amazon region including gas, oil and mining projects led to clashes between indigenous demonstrators and police that left 33 people killed, 23 of them police.

Peru´s Congress later repealed some of the decrees but tensions and distrust remain high toward the government in indigenous communities. In June, President Alan García refused to sign a bill that would require indigenous communities be consulted before any infrastructure or investment projects can be carried out on or near their lands, and sent it back to Congress.
—Latinamerica Press.


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