Worst disaster of its kind in at least ten years in the province of Río Negro is causing soil contamination and exposing financial firms’ hypocrisy
On Friday (December 10) an oil pipeline owned by Argentinian company Oleoductos del Valle (Oldelval) in the province of Río Negro, Argentina ruptured, causing the worst oil spill in the area for at least ten years. In response, 350.org submitted this week to the provincial Environment and Climate Secretariat an official request that the episode be rigorously investigated and that those responsible be investigated for the environmental crime.
In response to the leak, campaign coordinator at 350.org in Argentina, Ignacio Zavaleta, said:
“We are making an official request to the authorities so that, for no reason, this disaster should result in impunity.”
The oil spill required an extensive damage containment operation over the weekend. Thirty trucks of contaminated soil have been removed from the site so far according to news reports.
The oil transported by the faulty pipeline was extracted in another province, Neuquén, where national and multinational companies are running fossil fuel projects. These include European companies Equinor, Shell, Total and Wintershall that use both conventional methods and fracking, a dangerous technique banned from the United Kingdom and France, to extract oil and gas.
European banks including Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and ING have participated, until recently, or are still participating in the financing of these operations in Vaca Muerta, which for years have resulted in frequent environmental disasters, in addition to aggravating the climate crisis.
In a recently released assessment of environmental problems in the province of Neuquén the local Environment Secretariat shows that in 2018 alone there were at least 934 ‘pollution incidents’ caused by oil and gas companies in the area.
Campaign coordinator at 350.org in Argentina, Ignacio Zavaleta, said:
“This is the ‘development’ that European banks are financing in Argentina. When a major disaster strikes and the images spread, it becomes evident that oil and gas extraction in Vaca Muerta is unsafe and extremely harmful to the environment and the health of the thousands of vulnerable families living in the region”.
In the coming weeks 350.org will continue to monitor the impacts of the spill and, as always, to support individual activists and organizations in their demand for the end of the extraction of oil and gas in Vaca Muerta, as well as the redirection of subsidies and investments to sectors that improve the living conditions of the local communities.
For more information on resistance to fracking in Vaca Muerta and links to European finance please contact us.
Peri Dias, Communications, 350.org Latin America
+351 903 201 040
Mark Raven, Communications, 350.org Europe