A crude oil spill has been causing an environmental disaster in central Colombia for three weeks without state-run oil company Ecopetrol taking action to control it.
Oil started escaping the Lizama 158 oil field on March 3, but it was not until Saturday that Ecopetrol vowed to send heavy equipment that could stop the spill.
Ecopetrol president Felipe Bayon said the company was flying in a snubbing unit from abroad that could stop the spill. “We will have it in Lizama for construction between Wednesday and Thursday after which it can begin operations,” Bayon said.
Authorities, however, want to know what caused the spill, how bad the damage is and why it took the company three weeks to take action.
Reports have come from oil polluting rivers as far as 8 miles from the incidents, but it is unknown how much oil escapes the field every hour.
The Inspector General’s Office called in Environment Minister Luis Gilberto Murillo, environmental license agency ANLA director Claudia Victoria Gonzalez and the president of Ecopetrol.
Faced with the emergency presented in the vicinity of the La Lizama 158 well, operated by Ecopetrol, the control entity asked the ANLA to order the oil company to suspend exploration and exploitation activities in the area, to take action in the area to address the incident that has seriously affected the flora and fauna, and to carry out studies to determine the technical and scientific reason for the oil emanation.
Locals have said on social media that Ecopetrol personnel is trying to contain the disaster with shovels and light equipment, but is unable to prevent the disaster from getting worse.
Environmental authorities took no action for three weeks and have yet to be seen in some of the areas affected by the disaster, locals told media.
Dozens of family have been forced to leave their homes, and an unknown number of fish, birds and land animals have died.