According to the latest technical report by the Simón Bolívar University, the Venezuelan Society of Ecology and Remote Sensing led by Professor Eduardo Klein, reveals that the spill of 26,730 barrels of hydrocarbons in the Morrocoy National Park in Falcón State occurred on Wednesday, from July 19th to 22nd, 2020, was “definitely” caused by the “El Palito” refinery.
This was denounced by the president of the Commission on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change of the National Assembly (NA), Deputy María Gabriela Hernández, in a press conference held online on Wednesday during the Special Session of the body where the report reflects that a stain of 7.6 kilometers long and 1.5 kilometers wide was observed, which corresponds approximately to a spill of 26,730 barrels of hydrocarbons.
It ruled out that the spill had been caused by an oil tanker. “On July 31st the slick covered 350 square kilometers of coastline over a linear distance of 50 kilometers. This rules out the thesis that it was caused by an oil tanker. This research work contains aerial images that prove that there are no signs of containment of the spill, neither near the refinery nor on the coast”.
Furthermore, these tests reaffirm that the oil spill in the Morrocoy National Park occurred due to an accident caused in the Refinery “El Palito” due to the inoperativeness, inexperience and inobservance on the part of the authorities of PDVSA, which did not prevent or contain the harmful impact on the environment and the national ecosystem.
He also warned that according to the workers of Inparques, the “Cayo Borracho” (Drunk Key) located in Morrocoy National Park is “seriously affected” by the oil spill and also, they denounce that they are intimidated by the president of the organism, Josue Lorca, to prevent them from issuing opinions, disseminating videos or information about what is happening in the natural areas affected, following the guidelines of the Vice Minister of Eco-socialism, who have dismissed the seriousness of the ecological damage and do not offer official information about the event.
Julia Alvarez, member of the Venezuelan Society of Ecology, said she does not have technical information about the dimensions of the spill, nor the type of hydrocarbon.
In addition, she warned that the spill has immediate effects in the short, medium and long term. Scientific studies predict that the negative consequences on the ecosystem and its natural components can affect for up to 50 years or more, which requires monitoring and surveillance for long periods of time and space.
Oil spill risk in Paria
Similarly, in the plenary of the parliamentary body, they warned of the risk of collapse of a tanker loaded with approximately 1,300,000 barrels of oil in the Gulf of Paria, Sucre State, and alerted the international community that if preventive and precautionary measures are not taken, a new oil spill could occur that would spread to the Venezuelan coast and the Caribbean islands.
Congresswoman María Beatriz Hernández reported that according to oil workers in the area, there is no order to transfer the cargo to another vessel or to tow the ship away to safety, therefore it could constitute an environmental risk. “The ship could be affected and therefore, it would produce a spill in marine waters. We must avoid another tragedy”.
She emphasized that communications were sent to the relevant Venezuelan authorities related to the area of oil and environment, as well as to the joint venture PetroSucre.
In relation to the responsibility of an oil spill, Luis Cova Arria, renowned maritime lawyer and Founding Member of the Venezuelan Association of Maritime Law (AVDM) recalled that fortunately Venezuela is a member of the Civil Responsibility Convention, “which establishes the mandatory nature of a limit of responsibility up to the amount of tons of the ship and another mandatory system of civil responsibility insurance for ships”.
He added that among other bodies created for cases of oil spills exist the International Fund for Compensation of Oil Damage, located in London, England. It is responsible for compensating victims, including the ecosystem.
He reiterated that for several years, it has been denounced that the ship Nabarima, which is in the Gulf of Paria, “does not comply with the most elementary norms of maritime safety, especially at this time that the storage of crude oil is at its maximum, which constitutes an imminent environmental risk.”
He explained that the ship Nabarima is a tanker located to the north of the Paria peninsula, in the Caribbean Sea, and has served for oil storage and later to transfer derivatives of the Corocoro Field, located in the Gulf of Paria, which is exploited by the joint venture company PetroSucre, of PDVSA.