Subj: (more info) Oil Pipe Bursts, Contaminates High Bolivian Lakes
Date: 2/4/00 7:24:52 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: (New Millennium)
To: (Newmill)

February 4 9:59 AM ET

Oil Pipe Bursts, Contaminates High Bolivian Lakes

LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters) - A large quantity of oil has spilled into a
high Andean mountain river from a burst pipe operated by Shell and
Enron, contaminating two lakes rich in fish and flamingos and vital for
local Indian farmers.

The oil slick spread over 95 miles (150 km) of the River Desaguadero and
into lakes Uru Uru and Popo after the pipeline that supplies the
northern Chilean port of Arica was ruptured, operator Transredes said
late on Thursday.

Transredes is controlled by Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell
Group and by Enron Corp of the United States.

The Desaguadero flows out of Lake Titicaca, the world's highest
navigable lake at 12,500 feet (3,800 meters) above sea-level on the high
Andean plateau, and is used by local Indian communities to irrigate
their crops of potatoes, barley, beans and quinoa.

Local television showed images of dead ducks and of Indians trying to
block their irrigation channels to stop the oil from spilling into their
fields. The lakes are also important stopovers for migratory birds.

The accident occurred last Sunday when the Desaguadero weakened towers
supporting the pipeline at a point 120 miles (200 km) south of the
country's administrative capital La Paz, Transredes said.

Transredes turned the pump off at 6 p.m. local on Monday after it had
spilled oil for at least 18 hours. The company did not say how much oil
spilled, but local media quoted government officials as saying the line
had been pumping 10,000 barrels of oil a day.

Deputy Environment Neyza Roca accused Transredes of negligence and said
the government was considering severe penalties.

More than 150 people were working at the site on the problem, Transredes
said in a news release. It added that it had contracted the U.S. firm
Garner to clean up the damage.