A year after Ecuador oil spill, Indigenous victims await justice, reparations

It started as an ordinary morning in Ecuador’s eastern Orellana province. Abel Jipa’s sons, Byron and Johnny, and his son-in-law, Gibson, set out on the Coca River to go fishing in their canoe before sunrise. The morning of April 8, 2020, was different, however, after an estimated 15,800 barrels of oil spilled into the river overnight. Due to the stench of oil lingering above the water’s surface, the boys turned back in the pre-dawn darkness, unable to see and unaware a spill had happened upstream. Instead, they decided to grab their catch closer to the banks of the river. But as the sun rose, Byron, Johnny and Gibson returned home covered in oil, according to Abel. Following COVID-19 lockdown orders, many communities here had gone into quarantine with plans to fish and grow their own crops to limit their contact with the outside world as the pandemic raged on. Weeks later, the oil slick, which some described as looking like chocolate, arrived on their doorsteps after a regressive land erosion event damaged two oil pipelines operated by state-owned Petroecuador and privately owned OCP Ecuador on the evening of April 7, 2020. Environmental groups have since labeled the spill as the worst environmental catastrophe Ecuador has seen in more than a decade. The black smudges of oil from a year ago now appear as chemical burns on the skin. Abel, not knowing who to turn to for medical attention, has still not been able to find treatment for his children’s condition.…This article was originally published on Mongabay

Posted in