Argentine firm won't dump toxic waste into Peru's rainforest

Published: Thursday 30 November 2006

ACHUAR Indian communities in northern Peru forests called off their 15-day-long protest after the government and the Argentine oil drilling firm, Pluspetrol Norte, signed an agreement to stop dumping toxic oil waste into the rainforest.

According to the agreement, Pluspetrol is now committed to end all dumping of oil waste into the rainforest by 2008 and adopt safer disposal methods. The oil firm has also promised to build a hospital for the Achuar community and provide emergency food relief for a year while the area recovers from contamination. It will earmark a proportion of the revenues it raises for projects that will benefit the community, notes the agreement. While both the government and the oil firm acknowledged the native's request that no more oil facilities be built in the region, local media reports that they have refused to give any assurances on a moratorium on future facilities.Following the agreement, a Chinese oil company, sapet, exploring in the southwest Peruvian Amazon, too has announced that it will not enter the Achuar Indians' territory.

Oil facilities in the region have been pumping huge quantities of untreated wastewater into the rainforest for 30 years. The wastewater, heavily loaded with a wide range of toxins, mainly cadmium and lead, has fouled the environment and affected the health of the native community. The community had been demanding negotiations for more than two years. Of late, they had flared up after the government failed to negotiate the matter.

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