Talks Break Down with Maple Energy Over Oil Spills

Local indigenous peoples were left to clean up a Maple Energy oil spill in the Peruvian Amazon with rags and buckets

Last month we reported a major spill from Maple Energy's operations in Oil Block 31-E in the eastern Peruvian Amazon, the 6th major spill in just over two years. Last week talks between communities and the company broke down after Maple Energy refused to provide health care for the sick people now suffering from the July 2011 spill or to even support the costs of studies to measure the levels of contamination and health problems.

The affected communities were in a mediated negotiation with the Maple Energy after they filed a complaint in 2010 alleging human rights and environmental violations to the International Finance Corporation ("IFC"), part of the World Bank Group and one of Maple Energy's investors.

"Maple has denied the problems with contamination and sickness resulting from their operations on our land and refused our requests for environmental remediation and medical treatment," said Raul Tuesta, leader of the community of Nuevo Sucre.

The breakdown in talks highlights the challenges that communities face seeking remedy to human rights and environmental violations by international companies. Court cases, such as the Chevron-Texaco case, are lengthy and costly, while the grievance and accountability mechanisms set up by companies and their financiers pay little heed to communities' complaints and demands.

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