AMERICA/COLOMBIA – Bishop of Barrancabermeja: "Join forces to overcome environmental disaster"
Santander (Agenzia Fides) – “Words cannot express the deep sadness, given the vastness of this environmental disaster; not long ago we walked along the banks of these waterways terming with life and filled with of peace, now we can almost hear nature weeping after the aggressiveness of the black gold as it is called" says the bishop of Barrancabermeja, in the province of Santander, Mons. Camilo Castrellón Pizano, in a letter sent to Fides. He wrote the letter just after the disaster when thousands of drums of oil tumbled into the canals of the rivers La Lizama, Caño Muerto and Sogamoso, in Santander. "To this grief of Mother Earth is added the anguish of fishermen and peasants facing an uncertain future for themselves, their families, goods and work " continues the Bishop.
A month after the start of the disaster the toll is desolating. Hundreds of fishermen cannot return to work , about 50 families of farmers have been forced to move away and more than 1,200 animals had to be rescued from the mud. Moreover the crude oil polluted water resources and land causing the death of the flora and fauna in the area.
"Faced with the environmental tragedy continues the bishop – it is time to join forces so that together with serenity and wisdom we can find the way to overcome this disaster ". Mons. Castrellón asked the General Procurator’s office to investigate how this happened and how it can be prevented in the future . He ended by praying for the protection of Mary, the Sorrowful Mother "especially for our women, most intensely affected by the blow of this environmental disaster".
The Social Pastoral office in Barrancabermeja and members of the Development and Peace Programme in Magdalena Medio, will meet in the coming days to evaluate the situation and provide care for the people of this part of the country. The oil leak started on March 1 but was only discovered on the 12 in the village of La Lisama, close to the city of Barrancabermeja, the authorities in charge of environment licenses affirm that at least 550 oil cans contaminated 25 km of the River Sogamoso, causing the death of some 2,460 animals and endangering the health of many local people. (LG) (Agenzia Fides 04/04/2018)