More than 2,400 animals have died in northern Colombia after an oil well burst into a major river in March after Ecopetrol let 24,000 barrels of oil spill into the waterways. Hundreds of people remain without food or water, and up to 70 families have been treated for medical complications including vomiting, headaches, and dizziness which is caused by the spill.
The oil started to leak on March 2nd and is continued for the next 22 days. Today the remnants of the spill are making its way down two rivers, the Lizama River and the Sogamoso River. Conservationists are saying it’s the worst environmental disaster the Columbia has experienced in years.
Residents living on the river almost rely entirely on the waterways to feed their families and food has been very scarce since the spill as many have reported to eat almost nothing.
The company says that although around 1,300 animals were rescue, more than 1,000 different species of trees were impacted along with the 2,400 dead animals which included fish, reptiles, birds, and livestock.
The origin of the spill resides in Columbia’s largest oil refinery off the shore of the Magalena River in Colombia’s department of Santander.
The state-run oil company Ecopetrol says the spill is under control and an investigation is underway, but National Geographic reports locals say the crude oil continues to flow into the Lizama and Sogamoso Rivers.
According to the Colombia Reports, the Prosecutor General’s Office announced a criminal investigation in the company’s neglect while the Environmental Ministry said it could impose sanctions after the company allegedly falsely reported the spill was controlled shortly after leaking.
The reason behind the spill is still unclear but Ecopetrol’s president said seismic activity in the area could be responsible for cracking the well rather than technical failures. Ecopetrol has installed barriers, dikes, and evacuation pools along the rivers.
The removal of oil and use of it is extremely dangerous to our environmental and although cheap, clean energy is catching up as it becomes more efficient and cheaper every year. Big oil money is slowing the speed that clean energy is introduced to ensure profits but we need to urge our politicians to say no to oil. Write your congressman or congresswoman and let them know you will not vote for them unless they say no to oil. You can find contact info for your congressional representative here.