Peru says oil spill after volcano eruption hits coastal zone

A plume rises over Tonga after the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano erupted in this satellite image taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by the Japan Meteorological Agency on January 15, 2022, in this screenshot obtained from a multimedia video social network. NOAA/SSEC/CIMSS via REUTERS THIS IMAGE PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO FILES.

LIMA, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Peru’s Environment Minister Rubén Ramírez said on Monday that an oil spill from an unloading ship over the weekend has affected at least two kilometers of the country’s central coast, an event which was caused by waves following the eruption of a volcano in Tonga.

Ramírez, together with environmental control officials, supervised the cleaning work of the area in the coastal district of Ventanilla, affected by the spill during the unloading of crude oil from the ship to supply the La Pampilla refinery, owned by the Spanish company Repsol.

The National Institute of Civil Defense (Indeci) and the emergency center of the Ministry of Energy and Mines said earlier in a statement that the high tides recorded in Ventanilla, as a result of the volcano’s eruption, had altered the process of unloading crude oil. for refinery.

“It is unfortunate, I am seeing in situ (in the place) that there is a serious impact on the coastal marine area. Initially 2 and a half kilometers (of damage) were reported, but now we see that it has affected two beaches,” Ramírez told reporters. “We are seeing that there is indeed a lot of oily material,” he said.

Indeci stated that they already have the spill under control, although they continued with the cleaning work in the area. The Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement (OEFA) said for its part that it has initiated an investigation to determine responsibility for the events and the impact generated.

The Pampilla Refinery stated in a statement that “the violence of the waves” on Saturday due to the eruption of the volcano generated the “limited spill” of oil at a time when a ship was unloading; and that they immediately activated the security protocols to control the incident.

An undersea volcano off Tonga erupted on Saturday, prompting tsunami warnings and evacuation orders in Japan and causing huge waves in several islands and regions of the South Pacific.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino)

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