The Peruvian government is taking its first steps towards cleaning up the damage caused for half a century of wastewater and toxic substances dumped into the rivers and tropical forests in northern Peru.
According to Nature, an international digital journal of science, government contractors are drawing up plans to clean 32 sites, out of the 2,000 identified to date in an area known as Block 192.
“The sites have been listed as priorities by both environmental authorities and local indigenous organizations. Meanwhile, an independent study conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and released publicly in August, recommends a more comprehensive remediation strategy based on health risks, along with changes to environmental regulations2, informed the website.
Block 192 covers about 4,970 square kilometers. This area is inhabited mainly by Quechua, Achuar and Kichwa people. In 1982 oil production there peaked, producing 120,000 barrels per day.
“For four decades, the environmental effects of this activity were largely uncontrolled and unremediated. The hot, salty, metals-laden water pumped out of wells with oil was dumped into streams and rivers until 2009”, Natura said.
This pollution has caused chronic exposure of fish, frogs and other aquatic life, due to salts, heavy metals and hydrocarbons. This was determined by an UNDP-sponsored study, which included on-site inspection of 72 areas along the main rivers and their tributaries.
It was not until 2015 when the government installed temporary water-treatment plants that this issue began to be seriously addressed.