Slipping through the cracks after devastating the Peruvian coastline
Here’s how you cause an oil spill the size of Paris – and get away with it.
In January 2022, 11,900 barrels of oil poured into the coast of Lima’s Ventanilla Sea in Peru, provoking one of the worst ecological disasters to hit the capital. It happened when Italian ship Mare Doricum, hired by Spanish energy company Repsol, was unloading crude oil into underwater pipes of La Pampilla refiner
The crude oil covered an area the size of Paris. More than 1,500 fishermen from coastal communities lost their livelihoods and ability to provide for their families. About 300 birds were found dead, including threatened species such as the Humboldt penguin.
In the face of immediate irreparable damage to thousands of hectares of marine coastal area and the lives of countless families that depend on the coast for their livelihood, what did Repsol do?
Well, that’s not quite true.
First, they reported a spill far less extensive than what actually occurred. When the truth could not be hidden, they blamed irregular waves that made the spill ‘inevitable.’
Now, they are locked in a legal back-and-forth with the Peruvian government. Although Peruvian law holds Repsol responsible for the clean-up and compensation, political instability and lack of effective enforcement holds back real justice.
And while the corporations play the blame game, there is no fair compensation or clean-up in sight for the fisherfolk who have been out of work for months.
Nor for the thousands of birds still drowning in oil, half a year after the spill.
Nor for the hectares of protected areas of local significance, which have now become toxic.
That’s where a strong EU due diligence law comes in.
By setting strict obligations on companies to prevent and end harms, the repetitive story of corporate negligence stops here.
Today, the oil is less visible but its toxic impact lingers – and will remain until laws empower people to hold corporations like Repsol responsible.
This is why we’re making justice everybody’s business.