Indigenous organisations struggle to get their voices heard on remediation

5 August 2017

The indigenous federations representing the communities of various river basins in Loreto are doing their utmost to get community voices heard, given 45 years of trampled rights, with land titles blocked, protest criminalised, communities divided. The Guardian gives the testimony of various territorial organisations such as ACODECOSPAT, FECONACO, FEDIQUEP and OPIKAFPE: “lagoons with oil, contaminated animals, dead fish, knowledge loss, social disorder and the mistreatment of men, women and children, among other things.”

The last two years have seen a number of positive steps, such as the signing of the Saramurillo Accords at the beginning of 2017 which committed the government to clean-up operations around the Northern Peruvian pipeline. But the bids received for clean-up were all rejected this year, although a second tender is planned. Perupetro, the state organisation responsible for contracting oil companies, is busy trying to settle a new contract with Petroperú, the production arm of the state.

The clean-up of the results of four decades of damage is an issue that must not be brushed aside. A study by a Peruvian NGO, Equidad, supported by the indigenous federations, lists the damage done by the privately-owned Argentine firm Pluspetrol when it controlled the two main sites (Lots 1AB and 8). Equidad contends that 3 billion barrels of toxic water were dumped in lot 1AB between 2000 and 2009. It uses international comparisons to estimate the cost of clean-up plus indemnity in the two lots at US$1 billion. Two-thirds of Achuar children from the Corrientes basin and 79% of adults were found to have excess levels of lead in their blood in a 2005 Health Ministry report.

The Equidad report is available at http://www.iwgia.org/publications/search-pubs?publication_id=757 and the findings are summarised in the Guardian article cited above.

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