“The smell of gasoline woke me up. When I went to see what was happening, I noticed that the river had a different color and the animals began to soil themselves,” said Oswaldo Mala, a humble commoner of the Guinchile area, Esmeraldas, who just like many others, was taken by surprise over the worst environmental disasterof his life.
They’ve learned that the Heavy Crude Pipeline (OCP for its Spanish acronym), a pipeline with which they have lived for years, ignoring the danger that encloses a company of such nature, suffered an oil spill, which according to Petroecuador, is estimated at about 5,500 barrels.
The oil company blames the earth movement due to the rainy season for breaks in the pipeline, the fact is that the spilled oil, traveled 5 kilometers inside the Winchele river, spreading ecological death in its wake, before authorities could come up with the origin of the problem and do something about it.
The Ministry of Non-Renewable Natural Resources ensures that oil exports will not be affected, but it cannot be forgotten that the important thing is to remedy the damage caused by pollution in the river, which is the main water source for more than 300 people.
“The water was not contaminated, so we used it for human consumption. Moreover, to bathe and quench the thirst of animals,” said Alberto Hanse, owner of the El Prado ranch, who, in desperation, asked for help for his cattle, which was near the deadly river.
Juan Montano, from the Environmental Management Division of the Municipality, promised that they will do anything in their power to fix the damage, starting with stopping the contaminated stream of the Winchele, which was only 800 meters away from the main vain of the river.
Montano, getting ahead of the usual rumors from national authorities to which we are accustomed, said that the “OCP was warned about the high rainfall in the Winchele area. This is not a product of sabotage or poorly planned work.”
Finally, he asked representatives of OCP to ensure that affected communities have enough water until the whole thing is settled, and requested a reassessment of the pipeline route to ensure –for good- the humble commoners, that a calamity like this, never happens again.