Oil Spills in the Pacaya Samiria Reserve (2013-present)

On September 12, 2013, E-Tech engineers Ricardo Segovia and Mark Quarles entered the oil producing region of Block 8X, located entirely within the Protected Natural Area of Pacaya Samiria. E-Tech acted as a technical advisor to the Kukama indigenous federation of the area (ACODECOSPAT). Along on the trip were several government agencies in charge of environmental evaluations, potable water resources, petroleum infrastructure, and surface water resources. Many of these federal government agencies took soil and water samples in those areas where serious contamination was most visible. Results released in January of 2014 confirm what was obvious visually: Forty years of oil production in the Pacaya Samiria natural reserve has left a toxic legacy of oil spills, discharged salt water containing heavy metals, and aging pipelines that place the life of the ecosystem and human communities at risk.

The natural reserve of Pacaya Samiria is a tropical wetland located on the south side of the enormous Marañón River that leads into the Amazon River to the east.  This environmental evaluation came about after years of pressure from local communities who were dealing with the health effects of water sources and fish contaminated by oil production. The result was the formation of the Multisectorial Commission that brought together all the different players in order to carry out a proper evaluation of contaminated sites. Some of the agencies were entering the area for the first time, which speaks to the decades of neglect in this isolated and beautiful reserve. Many of the conditions observed are in direct contradiction to the federal government’s own laws and guidelines for oil producing regions. The first is lack of access, which was only possible by walking 17km on an abandoned pipeline. The others include corroding diesel pipes, lack of elevated pipeline supports, inadequate reactions to oil spills, and infrastructure constructed directly on top of wetlands and water courses. This historic documentation of environmental damage is a first and important step in in recovering the resilience of the ecosystem and human communities in the area.

OCT 2016:  ETECH Analyzes the Peruvian Governrment  Sabotage Accusations.

 

Download the document  October 6, 2016  E-Tech-Informe-Sobre-Sabotaje

Download the document  October 6, 2016  E-Tech-Informe-Sobre-Sabotaje

 

In 2006, Achuar indigenous people whose land is near the Corrientes River along the Peru-Ecuador border seized polluted oilfields controlled by Pluspetrol and formerly operated by Occidental Petroleum and Petroperu. 

The Achuar and Pluspetrol came to an agreement to reinject oilfield brines into old wells rather than dumping these wastes directly into streams. E-Tech Chief Engineer Bill Powers oversaw that process for the Achuar and for indigenous and Peruvian civil society groups supporting them. E-Tech’s Mark Quarles conducted field work with the Peruvian organization Shinai Serjali. The initial intervention was followed by years of monitoring by the Achuar federation FECONACO that documented widespread oilfield pollution. By 2012, the Acta Topal became the basis to demand cleanup of the concessions before they were re-sold, and E-Tech was named as the independent representative of federations FEDIQUEP and FECONACO. The Acta required that Pluspetrol pay for analysis and remediation and that the Regional Government of Loreto (GOREL) fund E-Tech to determine what remediation would be necessary.

GOREL has not produced the funds to date; E-Tech has been dependent on foundation support and is attempting during 2014-15 to clarify realistic goals and to represent the indigenous people in the region as best as possible. We are working closely with national Peruvian agencies. In March 2013 a limited area was designated an “Amazon emergency” by the Peruvian environmental minister, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal.