IAEA will support Peru in the fight against the oil spill, says Director General Grossi – Peru

Vienna, Austria

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will send experts and sophisticated monitoring equipment to help Peru assess and limit the environmental damage caused by a major oil spill in its coastal waters, the director general Rafael Mariano Grossi to the South American nation’s foreign minister.

In a video meeting with Foreign Minister Óscar Maúrtua de Romaña following Peru’s urgent request for assistance, Director General Grossi said nuclear techniques can be used to collect the precise scientific data authorities need to deal effectively with the impact of the oil spill and overcome the environmental crisis.

“The IAEA will take immediate action to help Peru deal with this serious situation which threatens the country’s precious coastal environment as well as its fishing-dependent economy,” he said. “In the coming days, we will send an expert fact-finding mission as a first step to support the country’s efforts to clean up the oil spill and reduce the negative consequences as much as possible.”

Based on the mission findings, the IAEA will be able to provide targeted nuclear technology for the development of a comprehensive long-term monitoring program of coastal waters, sediments, biota and air from the affected area. The IAEA can also provide specialized equipment, technical advice and training for setting up a dedicated laboratory for oil spill monitoring and toxicity assessment.

“The deployment of world-class experts and powerful monitoring equipment can make a real difference in Peru’s fight against this environmental emergency,” Director General Grossi said.

The IAEA assistance mission will be carried out in coordination with relevant United Nations organizations with a mandate in the field of marine pollution such as the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The IAEA provides expertise on a range of nuclear and isotopic techniques to gain a better understanding of ocean contaminants such as petroleum and paraffin. This helps countries identify the source of spills and better plan remediation activities, and determine who is responsible.

The oil spill in Peruvian waters, believed to have been caused by large waves near a refinery triggered by a volcanic eruption in Tonga, has affected large areas both at sea and on land, according to the Environment Ministry from the country.

The assistance envisaged by the IAEA is based on the scientific know-how of its Marine Environment Study Laboratories in Monaco. These unique laboratories within the United Nations system study the effects of pollution on marine ecosystems.

The IAEA provided similar assistance to Sri Lanka after a container ship burned and sank off the coast of Colombo in May 2021, leaking toxic chemicals, and to Mauritius after large amounts of fuel oil flowed into the Indian Ocean surrounding the island nation from a ship that ran aground off its coast in July 2020.

The IAEA, which joined the Bonn Agreement Oil Spill Identification Expert Network (OSINet) in 2014, has worked for years on monitoring petroleum hydrocarbons and their derivatives in the oceans. . He has developed methods based on analyzes of stable carbon isotopes and chemical signatures, which allow researchers to trace the origin of contaminants.

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