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.
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.
#MGPInforma a la población que ante la erupción volcánica en Nukualofa - Tonga, este NO GENERA TSUNAMI EN EL LITORAL PERUANO. Se pide mantener la calma e informarse a través de los avisos especiales que emite la @DHN_peru.— Marina de Guerra (@naval_peru) January 15, 2022
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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.
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