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After years of negligence by oil and gas companies and a dearth of regulations designed to hold them accountable for their actions, the Peruvian government has declared an environmental emergency in a remote section of its northern Amazon forest. Local activists claim that seven years ago the health ministry detected destructive levels of barium, lead, chrome and other petroleum-linked compounds in the blood of the local Achuar and Kishwar people, The Guardian reports, but until recently there has been virtually no government resistance to the problem.

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Peru passed a new law on Monday that outlines the country’s new environmental regulations, after the largest oil and gas producer Pluspetrol has appealed a succession of substantial fines for failing to adequately protect parts of the Pastaza Valley. The Guardian reports that the company has been given 90 days to clean up their mess, which has long endangered the local population.

In March 2012, the environmental ministry began to chase after Pluspetrol following contamination of Peru’s biggest crude oil field in the Corrientes River Basin – Block 1AB, minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal told Peruvian media. While it was possible for the company to justify its past infractions given the absence of proper environmental standards, the new law is expected to give the government leverage to finally reign in irresponsible operations.

Via The Guardian