Chilean President Sebastian Piñera plans to implement a national decontamination plan immediately after the Valparaiso region registered over 300 people poisoned by toxic clouds.
"We are studying all the evidence to identify who is responsible for the emission of these gases, in order to take action and prevent these incidents from recurring," the president said during a televised meeting with the mayors of Quintero and Puchuncavi, two towns strongly affected by the pollution.
Both cities of Quintero and Puchuncavi remain on yellow alert after high levels of toxicity were registered and schools were temporarily closed after reported signs of intoxication among students including vomiting, dizziness, and diarrhea Thursday.
The cloud of chemicals were identified and linked to the National Petroleum Company (ENAP), the city magistrate said, adding that the issue is being resolved and the waste removed, Chilean regional minister Jorge Martinez said in a statement.
President Piñera reassured the public, saying, “The important thing is not to look back to identify culprits, our motivation is that as of today a new deal begins, a before and after in which the State of Chile protects health, the environment, quality of life and the development of Quintero and Puchuncavi."
The decontamination plan will include permanent and independent water, air, and soil monitoring system, the state administrator said.
However, this is the eighth case of high levels of toxicity since 2011, with two oil spills, 235 carbon strandings, and 26 incidents of sulfur dioxide.
Massive demonstrations have overtaken the nation since last week with protesters calling for change and government action.
"We're not stupid; they want to put their finger in our mouths, saying it's pollen, we want this pollution that is killing us to be investigated," one protester told Publimetro.
In a statement, Carolina Orellana, a member of the organization Women in Sacrifice Zone, said: "What is happening is the most severe poisoning in the history of this slaughter area and we want the immediate shutdown of obsolete coal-fired thermoelectric plants, we want to stop the growth of the industrial park and all the maritime concessions that are in the pipeline."