Brazil 'on alert' over an oil spill from Ecuador

Aerial view of the oil spill in Ecuador's Amazonian region Petroecuador says it will clean up the spill

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Brazil is "on alert" over an oil spill that originated in Ecuador and is travelling downstream towards the Brazilian Amazon.

In a statement, the Brazilian foreign ministry said the navy and other agencies had been informed, and help was offered to Ecuador and Peru.

Last month, an estimated 11,480 barrels of oil leaked from a damaged pipeline into the River Coca in Ecuador.

The spill has already reached the Peruvian Amazon region of Loreto.

"Ibama (Brazilian Institute of Environment), Brazil's navy and ANP (National Petroleum Agency) are on alert in the event that the oil slick reaches the country," Brazil's foreign ministry said.

"Brazil has offered aid to Ecuador and Peru to support the work of containment and dispersion of the oil slick in the two countries."

Peru also affected

On 31 May, a landslide damaged the trans-Ecuador pipeline, causing a spill of some 420,000 gallons (1.6m litres) of crude oil.

Some entered the Coca river, a tributary of the Amazon that also flows through Peru and Brazil.

As it travelled downstream, the slick polluted drinking water in Coca, an urban area of about 80,000 people at the confluence of the Coca and Napo rivers in Ecuador.

Aerial picture showing oil flowing in the Napo river The spill polluted drinking water supplies

Days later, on 4 June, the authorities in Peru said the spill had reached the Loreto region.

The Peruvian Environment Minister, Manuel Pulgar Vidal, called it a "very serious problem" and said Peru could seek compensation.

"If there is a serious level of affected areas, international law always gives you the possibility to establish a compensation issue.

"But... first we have to look at the extent of the problem," he told Peru's Canal N television.

On Saturday, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador offered an apology to Peru "for the problems we have caused".

He added that the Peruvian navy were helping Ecuador to clean up the spill.

Ecuador's state oil company, Petroecuador, has said it has hired a specialist US firm, Clean Caribbean & Americas, to begin clean-up operations.

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