Chile oil spill described as 'environmental crisis'

Greenpeace has labelled the spillage of 40,000 litres (10,500 gallons) of diesel in the south of Chile as an ‘environmental crisis’.

In a statement, the global NGO’s country director Matías Asún said the Saturday, July 27, 2019 disaster “is an extremely serious situation, considering the pristine waters in which this environmental crisis took place,” and that it could bring “devastating effects”.

Chile’s navy has confirmed diesel oil poured into the sea in a remote and mostly untouched area of Patagonia, the South American Antarctica shared with Argentina, and says it is working to mitigate the effects.

A navy statement said it received a call from mining company CAP reporting the spill at the terminal of Guarello island, about 2,800 km south from Chilean capital Santiago de Chile.

The area is one of the planet’s most unpolluted with important biodiversity.

The navy said it had deployed two ships to the area to control damage from the spill and an investigation had been launched.

“The marine pollution control centre was activated,” Ronald Baasch, commander of the navy’s Third Naval Zone, told local media.

CAP released a statement saying the incident had already been contained.

The oil affected a bay and the company said it installed a container sleeve in the area, and began removing oil from the environment immediately.

The Third Naval Zone reported on Sunday, 28 July, 2019 it had managed to recover 15,000 liters of contaminated seawater.

“Weather conditions, with strong winds above 100 kph (62.1 mph), helped contain the material in the southern sector of the bay,” the naval institution said in a statement.

The Navy confirmed that it was preparing “a thorough maritime and administrative probe” to investigate the causes of the spill. For this reason, the statement added, “an ad hoc prosecutor arrived to the site in order to determine the origin of the spill, which occurred from land to the coastal edge.”

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