Feature

Oil in the forest

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Science  12 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6300, pp. 641-643
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6300.641

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Summary

The dense green canopy of the rainforest in eastern Peru and Ecuador hides substantial reserves of oil, and over the last 4 decades a web of wells and pipelines has spread through the forest. In the past few years, a spate of oil spills along Peru's main oil pipeline, including three this year alone, has fouled the water and land of dozens of indigenous villages, sparking fledgling efforts by scientists to understand how oil affects the Amazon ecosystem. By global standards, these spills are small. But oil may affect the complex Amazon ecosystem in unexpected ways, so that lessons learned in marine spills may not apply. And because local people rely on fishing and on river water for drinking, the human impacts of oil pollution could be especially severe.

  • * in Cuninico, Peru