Who Will Clean Up the Oil?

(Photo: Salvemos el Valle del Tambo/Facebook)

After United Nations Human Rights professionals requested Peru to halt negotiations until past oil pollution is cleaned up, it leaves us wondering who is going to foot the bill.

The request from UN representatives to halt oil negotiations until pollution and indigenous rights issues are resolved are not the only reasons why Peru is under pressure to act.

The Act of Lima in 2015 also commits the Peruvian government to act on oil pollution with a special environmental contingency fund with about $15 million in reserve for times when the state cannot force companies to clean up.  This falls very short of the estimated $1 billion required to clean up the pollution generated in past years.

An alliance of indigenous federations known as PUINAMUDT called this act “unprecedented in the environmental history of Peru,” according to the Guardian.

One thing that is apparent is that the companies: including Pluspetrol, China National Petroleum Corporation, Frontera Energy and Petro Peru, have shown little to no intention of cleaning up or recompensing communities.

Thus, the responsibility is likely to fall with the state.

This means that the economic gains from oil are going to cost the state dearly in terms of infrastructure funds, environmental degradation, and social welfare of communities – if, in fact, they choose to keep their promises.

The Guardian article recalls last December when an 117-day protest in the Saramurillo community of Loreto was only resolved due to government promises to act.  Time will tell if all these words, legal commitments, and promises translate into action.

See the full article at the Guardian for more information on the current situation and how it is affecting indigenous people’s personal and community health: $1bn to clean up the oil in Peru’s northern Amazon.



Mike Dreckschmidt

Mike grew up and eventually attended university in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He graduated in Integrative Leadership Studies with an emphasis in Urban and Regional Planning and has been a part of planning projects in three different countries. Mike’s passion is reading; he devours both literature and nonfiction. His favorite author is Peru’s own Julio Ramón Ribeyro.