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Pipeline Rupture Puts Ecuador’s Amazon at Risk

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Photo courtesy of CONAIE.

Last Friday, an oil pipeline in the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle ruptured due to a rockslide. 

The news became public after the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) posted images on Twitter of crude oil gushing out of a pipeline.

OCP Ecuador, the company that operates the facilities, said in a statement that it had immediately initiated cleanup actions, but the damage appears to be beyond repair.

The company said it had contained spilled oil so “it cannot contaminate any bodies of water” and had stopped pumping crude until “conditions are right.”

“This is why we oppose oil extraction,” said Andres Tapia, a member of CONAIE. “Spills have become part of our daily lives, and we have lived with the contamination for decades. The oil industry has only brought us death and destruction… We call on the government to halt oil expansion plans and properly clean up this spill and all others that continue to contaminate our territories and violate our rights.”

In a statement, Kevin Koenig, energy and climate director of the environmental group Amazon Watch, said, “This latest spill shows once again that Ecuador’s oil infrastructure is built to spill. Ecuador is averaging two oil spills per week despite promises to use state-of-the-art technology and alleged commitments to environmental responsibility. Government plans to double production and expand extraction deeper into the Amazon will only lead to more of the same.”

As NBC News explained, over the past 50 years, oil companies have extracted immense amounts of crude oil from the Amazon, destroying the rainforest, crucial to curbing climate change and endangering the indigenous tribes that depend on it.

In 2021, NBC News and the Pulitzer Center published and aired stories about oil extracted from Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest. Yasuní National Park, a 3,800-square-mile swath of forest, is home to more than a billion barrels of oil, and is also home to one of the most diverse collections of plants and animals on the planet.

“It hurts me to see the little that is left of our rainforest inside this protected area,” Nemo Guiquita, a leader of the Waorani tribe, told NBC News during a boat trip through the national park. “We should be fighting to protect our rainforest in Ecuador, but instead they are granting more oil concessions.” 

On Saturday, Guiquita said, “The oil spill has reached the banks of the Coca River. The situation is critical because more than 60,000 people depend on water from this river.”

With information from NBC News.

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