Ecuador: Massive erosion causes oil spill in the Coca River, strongly affecting nearby communities

Author: Mongabay, Published on: 11 May 2020

“Massive erosion likely due to hydropower dam causes oil spill on Ecuador’s Coca River” – 6 May 2020

…Ecuador is in a deep economic and health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has spread seriously in the city of Guayaquil, in the province of Guayas. Amid that crisis, at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, part of the riverbed of the Coca River, located on the San Rafael sector and on the border between the provinces of Napo and Sucumbíos, sank. The resulting sinkhole caused the collapse of upstream infrastructure belonging to the Trans-Ecuadorian Oil Pipeline System (known by its Spanish acronym SOTE) and the heavy crude pipeline (operated by private company OCP), which then caused an oil spill on the Coca… As the incident occurred in an area with abundant water, the oil quickly reached the Napo River. If containment operations there fail, the oil could reach the Amazon River in Peru. Kichwa indigenous communities living downstream of the spill have already denounced the contamination of the tributary and have expressed concerns about the possible death of fish and the impact on fishing, one of their only available subsistence activities during the pandemic… This disaster is not an isolated event, but is related to the collapse of the San Rafael waterfall on Feb. 2. This was caused by an erosion phenomenon that happened upstream of the waterfall (…)  Mongabay contacted the dam operator in February to ask about the erosion of the San Rafael waterfall but received no response. After the collapse that broke the OCP and SOTE pipelines on April 7, the company used its social media platform only to repeat messages sent by Petroecuador and the Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Resources…

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