Post-Oscars, Leonardo DiCaprio presses Peru over oil spills in Amazon basin

Leonardo DiCaprio attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Centre.
Leonardo DiCaprio attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Centre. PHOTO: AFP

LIMA (AFP) - Fresh off his Oscar win, Leonardo DiCaprio on Monday (Feb 29) took to social media to press the Peruvian authorities over oil spills sullying indigenous towns in the Amazon basin region.

"3,000 barrels of oil spilled in the Amazon! Act now for indigenous communities & our climate," he tweeted, the day after winning Best Actor honours for his role in survival epic The Revenant.

The tweet linked to a statement from the non-profit organisation Amazon Watch, which said: "At least two devastating oil spills have occurred in the Peruvian Amazon in the last month spilling thousands of barrels of oil into Amazonian rivers.


"Peru's national oil company is responsible, yet has been unconscionably slow in responding to the disaster and providing clean water, food, and necessary health services to affected indigenous communities."

The spills are serious concerns because most communities drink from the river, and fish in it. The statement from Amazon Watch calls for a campaign to demand action from the Peruvian government.

Lima declared a state of emergency in 16 Amazon rainforest communities on Sunday due to oil spills in the north-eastern Loreto region.

The measure, announced in the official gazette, lasts for 60 days and comes more than a month after a spill was reported in Imaza district, which has a population of 23,000. A second spill was reported on Feb 3 in Morona district, home to 9,000 people.

Residents of both districts are overwhelmingly indigenous people.

The spills were on sections of the Northern Peruvian Oil Pipeline, which moves crude from the jungle over the Andes mountains to refineries through a lengthy route on the northern Peruvian coast.

Built in the 1970s, the pipeline is operated by state oil concern PetroPeru.

In early February, President Ollanta Humala's government declared a health emergency in the region because the oil had polluted the rivers that provide drinking water to the affected districts.