Conoco Drilling Threatens Water Source for Half Million in Peru
Grassroots opposition is mounting as ConocoPhillips' plans to drill for oil within the fresh-water source for Peru's largest rainforest city, Amazon Watch said today on the occasion of the company's annual shareholder meeting in Houston, Texas. Conoco is currently advancing plans to drill exploratory oil wells in Blocks 129 and 123, found within one of the most ecologically sensitive regions in the world.
According to a May 2012 map produced by PROCREL, the Loreto regional environmental authority, ConocoPhillips is planning a total of 16 oil platforms and 48 wells between Block 129 and the adjacent Block 123. Thirteen of these platforms are found within the Upper Nanay-Pintuyacu-Chambira Regional Conservation Area.
"Conoco's shareholders need to understand that the company's plans in northern Peru are being met with increasing popular opposition across the region," said Robert Collier, corporate campaigns director at Amazon Watch. "The reputational risks for Conoco grow by the day."
"The oil company's installation and Block 129 in the Nanay watershed has alarmed us because we all know the consequences of oil extraction in other Amazonian watershed," said José Manuyana, president of the social organization Colectivo Amazonía in today's local paper La Región. "We know the devastating results and are worried this will happen in the Nanay headwaters which provide drinking water to all of Iquitos' 500,000 citizens."
In March of this year, citizens of Peru's Loreto region organized themselves into the Iquitos Water Defense Committee, specifically in response to Conoco's plans. Today the committee demanded that the regional government hold a public hearing to explain why they are allowing ConocoPhillips to advance with the exploration. They have also asked that information about Conoco's plans be made public and that the Regional Government respect prior decisions to exclude mining activities from ecologically sensitive areas.
According to the Iquitos Declaration, issued by the Iquitos Water Defense Committee on April 24 of this year: "The situation is currently getting worse. ConocoPhillips has an oil concession in the headwaters of the Nanay River, even though the first article of the Regional Order No. 020-2009-GRL-CR of October 15th 2009 declared of regional public interest the conservation and protection of the headwaters of watersheds found in the Loreto Region. For us, this river is the primary source of water supply for the city and source of other resources like fish, bush meat, and wood for our house construction."
International scientific experts are also expressing concern about the probable impacts of oil activities on this ecologically sensitive area. According to Bob Stallard, a bio geochemist who has sampled and analyzed waters from throughout the Amazon and Orinoco river basins since 1976, "Great cities try to protect their water supplies, and Iquitos has one of the best. Based on hundreds of published analyses of dissolved salts in rivers, the Nanay is among the purest rivers in Amazonia. Spills of formation waters and wastes associated with drilling could damage the Nanay as a drinking-water supply."
The Iquitos Declaration cites information that seismic testing has carved 778 kilometers of lines through the jungle, clearing more than 180 hectares of forest cover and detonating more than 15,500 seismic explosives. The statement continues, "now they are trying to get the approval to drill 18 exploratory wells that would function from six platforms within Block 129."
"Biodiversity in the Nanay basin is spectacular. In three weeks we recorded more than 1,800 species of plants and animals. Because the Nanay River begins in the Peruvian lowlands—not in the Colombian or Ecuadorian Andes like many other rivers in Loreto—it created a singular opportunity to conserve almost the entire watershed," said Corine Vriesendorp, Ph.D., director of the Andes-Amazon Program at The Field Museum in Chicago. "Clean water and robust fisheries were the rallying cries for creating the regional conservation area. Now oil activities threaten to negatively impact both water quality and fish stocks, critical for forest dwellers in the Nanay basin and urban residents in Iquitos."
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Fertility issues are on the rise, and new literature points to ways that your environment may be part of the problem. We've rounded up some changes you can make in your life to promote a healthy reproductive system.
Infertility and Environmental Health: The Facts<ul> <li>Sperm count is declining steeply, significantly, and continuously in Western countries, with no signs of tapering off. Erectile dysfunction is on the rise, and women are facing increasing rates of miscarriage and difficulty conceiving.</li><li>Why? A huge factor is our environmental health. Hormones (particularly testosterone and estrogen) are what make reproductive function possible, and our hormones are increasingly being negatively affected by harmful, endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonplace in the modern world—in our homes, foods, and lifestyles.</li></ul>
What You Can Do About It<p>It should be noted that infertility can be caused by any number of factors, including medical conditions that cannot be solved with a simple change at home.</p><p><em>If you or a loved one are struggling with infertility, our hearts and sympathies are with you. Your pain is validated and we hope you receive answers to your struggles.</em></p><p>Read on to discover our tips to restore or improve reproductive health by removing harmful habits and chemicals from your environment.</p>
Edit Your Health<ul><li>If you smoke, quit! Smoking is toxic, period. If someone in your household smokes, urge them to quit or institute a no-smoking ban in the house. It is just as important to avoid secondhand smoke.</li><li>Maintain a healthy weight. Make sure your caloric intake is right for your body and strive for moderate exercise.</li><li>Eat cleanly! Focus on whole foods and less processed meals and snacks. Studies have found that eating a Mediterranean-style diet is linked to increased fertility.</li><li>Minimize negative/constant stress—or find ways to manage it. Hobbies such as meditation or yoga that encourage practiced breathing are great options to reduce the physical toll of stress.</li></ul>
Edit Your Home<p>We spend a lot of time in our homes—and care that what we bring into them will not harm us. You may not be aware that many commonly found household items are sources of harmful, endocrine-disrupting compounds. Read on to find steps you can take—and replacements you should make—in your home.</p><p><strong>In the Kitchen</strong></p><ul> <li>Buy organic, fresh, unprocessed foods whenever possible. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/clean-grocery-shopping-guide-2648563801.html" target="_blank">Read our grocery shopping guide for more tips about food.</a></li><li>Switch to glass, ceramics, or stainless steel for food storage: plastics often contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that affect fertility. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/bpa-pollution-2645493129.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Learn more about the dangers of plastic here.</a></li><li>Ban plastic from the microwave. If you have a plastic splatter cover, use paper towel, parchment paper, or an upside-down plate instead.</li><li>Upgrade your cookware: non-stick may make life easier, but it is made with unsafe chemical compounds that seep into your food. Cast-iron and stainless steel are great alternatives.</li><li>Filter tap water. Glass filter pitchers are an inexpensive solution; if you want to invest you may opt for an under-the-sink filter.</li><li>Check your cleaning products—many mainstream products are full of unsafe chemicals. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Check out our guide to safe cleaning products for more info</a>.</li></ul><p><strong>In the Bathroom </strong></p><ul> <li>Check the labels on your bathroom products: <em>fragrance-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free</em> and organic labels are all great signs. You can also scan the ingredients lists for red-flag chemicals such as: triclosan, parabens, and dibutyl phthalate. Use the <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/" target="_blank">EWG Skin Deep database</a> to vet your personal products.</li><li>Ditch the vinyl shower curtain—that new shower curtain smell is chemical-off gassing. Choose a cotton or linen based curtain instead.</li><li>Banish air fresheners—use natural fresheners (an open window, baking soda, essential oils) instead.</li></ul><p><strong>Everywhere Else</strong></p><ul><li>Remove wall-to-wall carpet. If you've been considering wood or tile, here's your sign: many synthetic carpets can emit harmful chemicals for years. If you want a rug, choose wool or plant materials such as jute or sisal.</li><li>Prevent dust build-up. Dust can absorb chemicals in the air and keep them lingering in your home. Vacuum rugs and wipe furniture, trim, windowsills, fans, TVs, etc. Make sure to have a window open while you're cleaning!</li><li>Leave shoes at the door! When you wear your shoes throughout the house, you're tracking in all kinds of chemicals. If you like wearing shoes inside, consider a dedicated pair of "indoor shoes" or slippers.</li><li>Clean out your closet—use cedar chips or lavender sachets instead of mothballs, and use "green" dry-cleaning services over traditional methods. If that isn't possible, let the clothes air out outside or in your garage for a day before putting them back in your closet.</li><li>Say no to plastic bags!</li><li>We asked 22 endocrinologists what products they use - and steer clear of—in their homes. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/nontoxic-products-2648564261.html" target="_blank">Check out their responses here</a>.</li></ul>
Learn More<ul><li>For more information and action steps, be sure to check out <em>Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race</em> by EHS adjunct scientist Shanna Swan, PhD: <a href="https://www.shannaswan.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">available for purchase here.</a></li><li><a href="https://www.ehn.org/st/Subscribe_to_Above_The_Fold" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sign up for our Above the Fold Newsletter </a>to stay up to date about impacts on the environment and your health.</li></ul>
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