Officials in Peru are demanding Spanish energy company Repsol compensate them for the damage caused by a recent oil spill. Photo courtesy of Peru's Ministry of Environment/Twitter
Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Peru on Wednesday demanded Spanish energy behemoth Repsol pay compensation for an oil spill the result of waves that were caused by an underground volcanic eruption near the Pacific island nation of Tonga over the weekend.
Some 6,000 barrels of oil were spilled off the coast of the capital Lima while being unloaded to the La Pampilla refinery when waves crashed into a Repsol tanker following Saturday's volcanic eruption.
The South American nation's prime minister, Mirtha Vasquez, ordered urgent clean up and containment measures Wednesday while stating the attorney general "will sue those responsible."
"We are very concerned because it is one of the most significant ecological disasters in recent years," she said in a statement.
Vasquez added what is most urgent at the moment is to protect the environment with immediate clean-up measures as the oil pollution will negatively affect the sea, flora and fauna.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday demanded Repsol compensate them for the damage.
"The Repsol oil spill is the worst ecological disaster that has occurred in Lima in recent times, and has caused serious damage to hundreds of fishermen's families," it tweeted. "This terrible situation has endangered the flora and fauna in two protected natural areas of more than 18,000-square kilometers."
Repsol in a statement said it was developing such means.
"Containment barriers have been deployed covering all affected areas," it said, adding brigades of people armed with specialized equipment have been deployed to remove oil for the ocean and coastline.
It said Tuesday that it has deployed nearly 1 mile of containment barriers and six boats carrying 50 people working to remove oil from the surface of the ocean.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment has demanded it "accelerate" its clean up measures, stating via Twitter that "the prosecutor's office will initiate legal actions."
Osinergmin, the energy and mining regulator, said in a statement that it has ordered suspension at the refinery until it determines the cause of the oil spill.
According to Senanp, which oversees nature preserves, some 2,000 gallons of oil has been removed from the affected Pocitas Beach in the Ancon Reserve Zone.