Thursday, May 03, 2007

Using Google Earth to See Pipeline Erosion

If you use the free GIS program, Google Earth, you can get a good aerial view of the pipeline right-of-way and the tremendous erosion caused by construction.

Just copy and paste the following sets of lat,long coordinates into the Google Earth search field (one at a time):

12°14'15.13"S, 73° 0'36.96"W

12°12'32.64"S, 73° 0'27.60"W

The above sites are both in the Machiguenga Communal Reserve. The aerial images are from May 2004. Some terracing/erosion control are visible but there are also some blowouts into the watersheds on the side. These images demonstrate how the strategy of building the pipeline along ridgelines affected watersheds on both sides of the divide.

In 2003, I visited the region during pipeline construction with Environmental Defense and Global Village Engineers (GVE). The following is from GVE's report:
In the steepest areas of construction observed there was little, if any attempt at environmentally sound construction. Over the entire portion of pipeline corridor observed (approximately 60 km), during construction there was total clearing of vegetation and topsoil to a depth of approximately 0.5 meters during the 2002 dry season. According to reports from local people, and supported by the absence of any protected stockpiles of such material, the cleared material was stockpiled along the corridor. However, there is currently little or none of this material remaining adjacent to the corridor. Thus, the removed vegetation and soil most likely washed into the nearest watercourse. In addition the construction left soils exposed during the ensuing rainy season and in some areas over two meters of the exposed soils were eroded and washed into the nearest watercourse. The net result of erosion and clearing was washing up to 100 tons of soil and vegetation per meter of pipeline into sensitive aquatic habitat.
It is hard to imagine this not being one of the causes for the dramatic decline in fish stocks reported by Machiguenga communities along the pipeline ROW.

Here are a few other coordinates to check out in Google Earth.

Las Malvinas camp and facility:
11°50'26.07"S, 72°56'49.64"W

Where the Camisea pipeline crosses under the Urubamba River:
11°56'47.85"S, 72°55'27.11"W

Pagoreni Well Platform - Block 56 and road (in the Machiguenga community of Shivankoreni):
11°42'54.59"S, 72°54'1.85"W

Machiguenga Community of Shivankoreni (village center)
11°42'41.38"S, 72°55'43.79"W

Pagoreni B Well Platform - Block 56
11°41'28.45"S, 72°56'56.96"W

San Martin 3 Well Platform (I believe) - Block 88
11°47'8.71"S, 72°42'5.02"W

I'll try to keep posting other coordinates of places of interest in the future.

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