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The oil company Pluspetrol is being fined $7 million in environmental damages caused in Lot 1AB in Peru’s Northern Amazon.  Their activities have caused irreparable destruction of a lagoon which was the source of water and food for Quechua and neighboring communities along the Pastaza River. The fine responds to a series of denunciations by FEDIQUEP, the Quechua Federation of the Pastaza River, citing illegal activities by Pluspetrol in the Shanshococha lagoon.  Pluspetrol\’s activities caused the 2,856 square meter lagoon to simply disappear in 2012.

Pluspetrol’s activities were conducted without the knowledge of the environmental authorities.  The Peruvian government’s Environmental Fiscal and Evaluation Organization (OEFA) alerted the press that the infractions made by Pluspetrol “have affected the lagoon with liquid hydrocarbons”, “have caused the irrecoverable ecological loss of the ecosystem that formed the lake by conducting drainage and soil activities without consulting environmental management”. OEFA has decided on a progressive application of environmental compensation by demanding that Pluspetrol must generate a new lagoon, or protect and restore an existing body of water in the affected zone of contamination.

In March 2013, Peru’s Ministry of the Environment declared a state of environmental emergency in the Pastaza River Basin, subsequent to an environmental assessment in Lot 1AB and its area of influence, determining “high levels of hydrocarbons and heavy metals” in the territory of the Quechua communities (in November 2013, it declared a state of emergency in the Tigre River basin, also within Block 1AB).

By Priscilla De Jesus