The wild Amazon jungle is often thought to be one of the most pristine places on Earth—lush with greenery, home to exotic animals, and capable of absorbing carbon pollution. However, those same rainforests have become fragile due to deforestation and now a ruptured oil pipeline in Peru has leaked 3,000 barrels of oil into the already delicate environment. A landslide caused the spill, polluting rivers that provide water to eight different native communities.

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A landslide caused two breaks in the main oil pipeline managed by state-owned Petroperu in late January and early February, stopping the flow of 5,000 to 6,000 barrels of oil per day. The spill leaked oil into the Chiriaco and Morona rivers in northwestern Peru, prompting health officials to declare a water quality emergency in five districts. National environmental regulator OEFA is conducting an investigation and if the spill is found to have negatively impacted local residents, Petroperu faces fines up to $17 million.

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The oil company, which also processes the oil it transports, is working to clean up the spill, but their efforts have been slowed by heavy rains. OEFA has also ordered Petroperu to replace a section of the damaged pipeline and clamp down on maintenance procedures in hopes of avoiding a repeat performance. Petroperu officials say it could take several months to complete the clean up and conduct a full evaluation of the pipeline, which was built in the 1970s.

Via The Guardian

Images via Shutterstock and Democratic Underground