Lima.- The Peruvian government agency for consumer protection sued the Spanish oil company Repsol for 4,500 million dollars for damages for the spill of some 12,000 barrels of crude last January.

The lawsuit was filed jointly and severally before the 27th civil court of Lima against six companies: Repsol (Spain), Mapfre Global Risks (Spain), Mapfre Peru Insurance and Reinsurance Companies (Peru), La Pampilla Refinery (Peru), Transtotal Maritime Agency (Peru) and Fratelli d’amico Armatori (Italy, owner of the tanker involved), detailed the Peruvian agency.

“These actions could generate jurisprudence on issues of oil spills that cause damage and collective moral damage due to pollution of the environment in coastal areas,” said Julián Palacín, executive director of the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and Protection of Intellectual Property ( Indecopi), in a statement released Friday night.

The spill occurred on January 15. while the Italian-flagged tanker “Mare Doricum” unloaded crude oil at the La Pampilla refinery in Ventanilla, 30 km north of Lima, owned by Repsol.

The oil company attributed the incident to waves caused by the volcanic eruption on the island of Tonga, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, and the Peruvian government described it as an “ecological disaster.”

The Repsol oil spill affected more than 700,000 residents, mostly fishermen, and forced the closure of twenty beaches and dozens of businesses in the area.

Indecopi claims 3,000 million dollars for environmental damages and 1,500 million for moral damages to affected consumers, users and third parties, according to the lawsuit.

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Eight prosecuted

The oil slick spread through waters and coasts up to 140 kilometers north of the refinery, causing the death of an undetermined number of fish, birds and marine mammals. The National Service of Protected Natural Areas found 539 birds and two dead sea lions until April 11.

Fishing and tourist activities in the area have been affected for four months.

The Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation into the spill and eight Repsol executives are legally prevented from leaving the country due to the incident, including the president of Repsol Peru, the Spaniard Jaime Fernández-Cuesta Luca de Tena. The rest are Peruvian.

In addition, the Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement (OEFA) has imposed five fines on Repsol for about 620,000 dollars.

Immobilized at the request of the prosecution, four months after the spill, the Mare Doricum remains anchored six miles off the Peruvian coast under surveillance by Navy coastguards.

The Italian-flagged tanker is a Suezmax-type freighter, built in 2009 and owned by the Italian shipowner Fratelli d’Amico. Its base is in Naples.

The ship will not move until the investigation is over, but the crew is not detained, said the Port Authority of Callao.

Until April, the Spanish oil company had delivered bonuses of 500 soles (125 dollars) and an advance compensation of 3,000 soles (about 810 dollars) to hundreds of families, indicated fishermen’s associations.

According to Repsol, the cleaning work in the sea and on the beaches reached 96% in April.

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