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Volcanic eruption in Tonga triggers major oil spill in Peru

Dead birds and seals are washing up on the shores of Peru after 6,000 barrels of oil leaked from a refinery.

Photo: CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP / AFP

Saturday’s volcanic eruption in Tonga has set off an environmental disaster in Peru.

The eruption and the subsequent tsunami have led to a major spill at a refinery near the capital, Lima, the Peruvian government reports.

President Pedro Castillo calls the incident ”an environmental disaster”, with clean-up crews scrambling to limit the enormous oil leak from the country’s largest refinery.

The leaked oil has polluted waters and beaches near the Pacific coast of Peru, where dead birds and seals are washing ashore.

”We’re at a critical moment,” says Castillo, who has declared a stage of emergency for several beaches.

”This is the most worrying ecological disaster on the Peruvian coast in recent times,” he adds.

The president contends that the responsibility in this case lies with the company. The La Pampilla refinery is owned by Spanish oil firm Repsol.

However, a spokesperson for La Pampilla says that the company isn’t liable for the oil leak, instead pointing the finger at the Peruvian fleet for failing to send out a tsunami warning after the volcanic eruption on Tonga.

Contrary to other Pacific nations, the Peruvian authorities only issued a warning about unusually high waves following the eruption.

According to Peru’s Minister of the Environment Rubén Ramírez, around 6,000 barrels of oil have leaked following the spill, leaving oil on 21 beaches.

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