Toxic Spills in Venezuela Offer a Bleak Vision of the End of Oil

Date: 2020-12-15 23:14:58

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Tropical rains have washed away most outward traces of the oil spill that ravaged Rio Seco this fall. But the fishing village in the shadow of Venezuela’s main refining hub bears the scars of deeper contamination.

Boats with oil-stained hulls must now travel further out into the Caribbean to make a catch. Crude has soaked the roots of nearby mangroves, leaving shrimp grounds barren. Seeing no future, dozens of fishermen and their families have fled their homes; those who are left loiter in the village, waiting for Petroleos de Venezuela, the state oil company known as PDVSA, to compensate for lost boats, equipment and sales.

Broke and subject to international sanctions, President Nicolas Maduro’s government is squeezing what it can from Venezuela’s collapsing oil industry, unleashing an environmental disaster in one of Earth’s most ecologically diverse nations. As the country’s vast resources become a toxic burden, Venezuela offers a bleak vision of the end of oil in a founding OPEC member.

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