Peru seeks travel ban for oil company execs amid leak investigation | Environment News

Prosecutors want to prevent local Repsol SA refinery managers from leaving Peru as the investigation into the massive oil spill continues.

Peruvian prosecutors want to ban the president and three other executives of the local refinery of Spanish oil company Repsol SA from leaving Peru for 18 months while an investigation into an immense oil spill is underway.

The government said last week that Repsol spilled some 6,000 barrels of oil into the ocean on Jan. 15 at the La Pampilla refinery after unusual waves were caused by a volcanic eruption near Tonga.

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo called it the biggest “environmental disaster” to hit the South American nation in recent years, as more than 180 hectares (445 acres) – equivalent to about 270 football fields – are beach and 713 hectares (1,762 acres) of sea. were affected.

Dead seals, fish and birds have washed up on the oil-covered coast and fishing activities in the area have been suspended as an extensive clean-up operation involving hundreds of volunteers and workers was underway.

A judge will review the prosecutors’ request against the Repsol executives later on Thursday. Repsol representatives in Peru were not immediately available for comment, Reuters news agency said.

Hundreds of volunteers and workers race against time to clean up beaches after the spill of the Italian-flagged tanker “Mare Doricum”.

Repsol has said Peruvian authorities did not issue a tsunami warning and the ship was offloading oil to the refinery when the waves hit.

Castillo said last week that a committee would be formed to propose ways to deal with the crisis, in line with national policies aimed at protecting the environment.

Prime Minister Mirtha Vasquez also said Repsol has promised to provide a cleaning schedule, involve local fishermen in cleaning up on the beaches and deliver food baskets to affected families.

A cleaner, Hector Fernandez, said the situation was “frustrating”.

“It pollutes the whole beach and thus affects several people who come to spend the summer and the fishermen who work every day to earn a living from sweat, with fishing,” he told the AFP news agency.

Meanwhile, Peruvian authorities reported that a second, “relatively small” oil spill was recorded on Tuesday during work on an underwater pipeline at the La Pampilla refinery – although the company denied it had occurred.

The monitoring agency Osinergmin of the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment said that “an estimated volume of eight barrels of crude oil … was registered and brought under control”. Navy Captain Jesus Menacho said the new leak was “relatively minor”.

Repsol denied there had been any new spill, saying in a statement Wednesday that there was “a controlled upwelling of the remains of the January 15 spill” during infrastructure work 18 meters (60 feet) under water.

“This upwelling was foreseen, so the containment barriers, absorbent elements and skimmers were already in place in the area as a safety measure. In this way, the hydrocarbon was kept under control,” the company said.

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