Tonga Eruption Gets Blame for Peru Oil Spill 6,800 Miles Away

Jan 18, 2022 by Bloomberg
image is BloomburgMedia_R5X5I2DWLU6M01_19-01-2022_08-00-04_637781472000000000.jpg

High ocean waves stemming from a massive volcanic eruption near Tonga caused an oil spill off the coast of Peru, closing beaches and halting fishing after the country’s Navy failed to issue a tsunami warning.

High ocean waves stemming from a massive volcanic eruption near Tonga caused an oil spill off the coast of Peru, closing beaches and halting fishing after the country’s Navy failed to issue a tsunami warning. 

The leak occurred while an oil tanker was discharging crude for the La Pampilla refinery owned by Madrid-based Repsol SA on Saturday. The spill near the seaside city of Ventanilla, near the Peruvian capital, has been contained and cleaning is underway, according to a government statement. 

Workers clean oil from Cavero beach in Ventanilla, Callao, Peru, on Jan. 18.Photographer: Martin Mejia/AP Photo

The volcanic eruption that took place almost 11,000 kilometers (6,800 miles) away forced Peru’s environmental authority to close at least two beaches and a national natural reserve. It’s unclear how many gallons of oil the tanker Mare Doricum spilled in the ocean but the vessel was carrying almost 1 million barrels of Brazilian crude that loaded in an oil terminal owned by Petroleo Brasileiro SA. The oil is washing up at the shore, causing cleaning operations to expand to the beaches.

Repsol and Petrobras didn’t immediately return calls and emails seeking comment. Cleaning is still ongoing. 

Images posted on social media show birds and rocks covered in sludgy oil and crews dressed in white hazmat suits along the coast. Media reports say the spill extends over almost two miles along the coast. The Peruvian Navy is being heavily criticized for not issuing a tsunami alert for the event. 

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano spewed a giant mushroom cloud of smoke and ash, and the tsunami flooded Pacific coastlines, covering the island of Tonga in ashes and submerging part of it. 

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

By Lucia Kassai

Back To Top