Peru’s Minister of Environment Rubén Ramírez said in a press release on January 26 that a new, 8-barrel oil spill has been discovered at the La Pampilla refinery, owned by Spanish oil company Repsol. This follows a 6,000-barrel spill on January 15 resulting from high waves caused by the volcanic eruption in Tonga the day before. That spill, also attributed to Repsol, has led to an “environmental disaster,” according to the release.
Repsol denies that there has been a second spill, saying that oil escaped from an underwater pipeline as workers were withdrawing equipment to enable an investigation or clean-up related to the initial spill. The company said some leakage had been expected, and containment barriers, absorbent elements and skimmers were in place as a precaution. Both the company and Peru’s energy regulator Osinergmin report that the oil has been contained. Ramírez, however, said: “Everything is under investigation.”
Ramírez has expressed dissatisfaction with the clean-up and remediation work being carried out by Repsol. “We will be inflexible in the face of the new spill of eight barrels of oil, because they continue to attack a protected area where there is a great variety of marine life. We are not convinced with the company’s work. We will take the necessary measures with the Attorney General’s Office and the OEFA [Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement],” he remarked.
The environment minister also indicated that the captain of the Mare Doricum, the vessel involved in the initial spill, has shared information about “apparent failures committed by Repsol in the process of unloading the crude oil.”
Repsol is denying responsibility for the January 15 spill, claiming that the Peruvian Navy should have issued a tsunami alert.