Oil company Pluspetrol’s environmental management of Lot 1-AB: between inefficiency and impunity

Last Saturday – November 10, took place the first decentralized session of the Congress’ Indigenous Peoples, Environment and Ecology Commission, in Iquitos. On that occasion, approximately 70 indigenous leaders traveled there to take part in the session. On the agenda’s session, regrettably figures a topic which is today quite known: the environmental contamination because of Pluspetrol’s oil extraction activities and the remediation of the environmental damages.

During the last month of June, several members of Congress (Eduardo Nayap, Leonardo Inga, Marisol Perez Tello y Verónika Mendoza Frisch) – within the framework of a Congress Working Group on the Environmental and Social Situation in the 4 basins of the rivers Pastaza, Corrientes, Tigre and Marañon, visited the Lot 1-AB. It’s been the occasion to see the environmental disaster remaining in Pluspetrol’s influence zone – despite the adoption of environmental management instruments (Environmental Management Plan – PAMA: Environmental Complementary Plan – PAC): rivers and waters are literally filled with oil, soils are stained by crude, fishes and animals contaminated and therefore unfit for consumption etc. They also could observe how, in some parts of the Lot, the oil company tried and managed to hide evident environmental damages with sand, dust and mud (1).

The final inform of this Working Group, denounced the fact that serious environmental damages like the contamination of the Shanshococha Laguna were not registered in a environmental management instrument such as a PAMA or a PAC (see up above). This means that theses environmental damages were not even reported to the competent authorities –OSINERGMIN and OEFA (2). The company argued that the competences confusion between the two entities prevented it to report the damages – Pluspetrol didn’t know to whom it should have referred. Indicating and reporting environmental incidents (which, over time, turn into “pasivos ambientales”) to the competent authorities is an obligation for the company as mentions the article 80 of the Exploration and Exploitation Activities Code (D.S N°032-2004) or the article 53 of the Code for the Environmental Protection in Hydrocarbons Activities (D.S N°015-2006). The term “Environmental accidents” refers to: “oil spills and/or leakages, waste treatment or inappropriate disposal, plants cuttings, fauna and flora lost, other that affects the environment” (2).

During the Commission decentralized session, FEDIQUEP (the Quechua Indigenous from Pastaza Federation) – through a photographic exhibition, denounced the actions and irregular activities of the company regarding the environmental damages that are still not remedied. The purpose of these operations seems to be seeking to hide serious environmental damages (that, legally and contractually, Pluspetrol should correct), as “making disappear the Shanshocha Laguna “ (see picture below). These pictures were taken by FEDIQUEP during the researches of the Multisectorial Commission (RS N°200-2012-PCM) in charge of investigating the social and environmental contamination problems in the 4 river basins before mentioned.

This “episode” is part of a very much larger chapter of complaints against Pluspetrol, which impunity is regrettably evident – since its responsibility has never been really and severely engaged (3). Besides not reporting and not remedying all the environmental damages – all those left by Occidental Petroleum (which Pluspetrol committed to correct when it signed the respective license contracts for lot 1-ab and lot 8) but also all the new ones generated by Pluspetrol itself, the oil company is not only aggravating the situation but also committing new and intolerable environmental crimes.

Apu Aurelio Chino in what’s left of Shanshococha. ©PUINAMUDT

Source: “¿Pluspetrol puede desaparecer una cocha impunemente?

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