UN experts land in Peru to help clean up oil spill

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A team of UN experts on environmental disasters arrived in Peru to assist the cleanup of the oil spill that occurred near capital Lima on January 15 at a refinery operated by Spanish energy company Repsol.

“The team of UN specialists is already in Lima to evaluate and propose immediate steps to mitigate the environmental impact caused by the oil spill in Ventanilla,” a district in the port city of Callao, the Foreign Affairs Ministry tweeted.

The experts aim to carry out a rapid assessment of the socio-environmental impact of the oil spill, and advise the authorities on the management and coordination of the response. They also hope to reduce the risk of similar disasters recurring in the country, reports Xinhua news agency.

The UN support came in response to Peru’s request for international aid.

The crude oil spill, estimated to be of about 6,000 barrels, occurred at the La Pampilla refinery, affecting about 1.8 square km of coastline and 7.1 square km of sea, according to the Environmental Assessment and Control Agency under the Environment Ministry.

On January 22, the Peruvian government declared a 90-day environmental emergency in the coastal area of Lima.

Authorities have opened an investigation into the disaster, which the company had reportedly minimised at first.

Repsol Peru’s President Jaime Fernandez-Cuesta told media on Sunday that there was initially a “misperception” about the amount of crude oil spilled into the sea, but containment efforts were begun “as soon as there was awareness of the magnitude of the event”.

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