The government says Repsol last week spilled about 6,000 barrels of oil into the sea near its La Pampilla refinery, which blamed the company for unusual waves caused by a volcanic eruption in Tonga.
Spanish energy company Repsol has said a clean-up operation for a major coastal oil spill near Peru’s capital Lima will last until the end of February, in an environmental incident declared a “disaster” by the government.
Dead seals, fish and birds washed up on the oil-covered shore, while fishing activities in the area were suspended, the government said. Repsol said on Friday it had called in fishermen to help clean up the oil.
“I used to collect crustaceans, but now, when I walk to the coast, they are dead,” said fisherman Walter de la Cruz. “Vensermanne used to sell the seafood we collect. But now everything smells like death. ”
The Pacific Ocean off Peru is a major source of marine life and seafood for Peruvians.
The government said Repsol last week dumped about 6,000 barrels of oil into the sea near its La Pampilla refinery, blaming the company for unusual waves caused by a volcanic eruption in Tonga.
The company declined to name the extent of the spill, saying it was still evaluating the effect.
Repsol added in a statement to Peru’s security regulator SME that oil refining operations are continuing normally and he does not expect an official investigation to “significantly affect” the subsidiary’s business position.
“This incident did not affect the continuity of our operations, or our ability to supply the market,” said Repsol. “The event did not have a significant impact on the productive activities of the refinery.”
Peru’s environmental agency OEFA said on Thursday that about 1.7 million square meters (420.08 hectares) of land and 1.2 million square meters of sea were affected by the spill.
Communist Peruvian President Pedro Castillo described it as the biggest “ecological disaster” that has hit the Andean nation in recent years.
Repsol added it has deployed about 840 people to help with cleaning tasks. Repsol’s La Pampilla accounts for 54 percent of Peru’s refining capacity.