On 06 November, 2002 the 3,562 metres high Reventador volcano erupted quite unexpectedly. The route of the new OCP pipeline runs only a few kilometres in the South along the foot of the active volcano. Hundreds of workers of the Argentinian Techint construction company had to be evacuated when the falling stones and lava lumps put the construction camp in danger. The OCP pipeline was damaged by he eruptions at several points.
The critics of the OCP project feel reassured after the recent events. Should the running pipeline be damaged by a volcanic eruption, this would have devastating consequences for the Amazonas lowland. The leaking heavy oil would pollute wide-reaching parts of the rain forest through the branched river system.
The overall route runs along five active volcanoes. In 1999 there was an eruption of the Pinchincha volcano, which the pipeline crosses on its way to the loading port near Esmeraldas at the Pacific coast. However, subterranean location of the pipeline would not provide protection from eruption either because the eruptions are accompanied by lava and earth movements in most events.
These days, some 500 workers are present in the volcano region. Petroecuador has been examining the state-run SOTE pipeline, running also through the narrow valley. Construction workers have been trying to repair the road connecting Quito and Lago Agrio. And OCP has had engineers on the spot in order to speed up the construction of the pipeline.
After the recent events, Ute Koczy from Alliance 90 / Green Party has appealed to the WestLB again to rethink its financial involvement in the OCP project. WestLB keeps saying that the environmental standards of the World Bank are observed in the construction of the new pipeline.
However, in September this year the expert opinion of the former World Bank expert Dr Robert Goodland uncovered major violations of the standards that the Bank has not commented up to now. Organizations like Rettet den Regenwald (Save the Rain Forest) have been urgently warning against possible environmental consequences of the dangerous route.
Meanwhile, new incidents have occurred also at other places of the pipeline route. At the Guarumos mountain ridge near Mindo three persons were arrested at a demonstration, among them the Italian Giuseppe de Marzo from the Green Party. He was expelled from the country and currently is back in Italy again. The lot where the demonstration took place is in private ownership and has been fiduciary administered by the opponents of the pipeline project. Obviously, the arrests are an illegal action of the authorities.
About the desperate struggle of Acción por la Vida in Mindo against the pipeline construction. Some 30 years of oil extraction have left toxic trails in the Ecuadoran Amazonas lowland…
to the report In the Footsteps of Oil Companies