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News > Latin America

Environmental Emergency: 720,000 Lt. Oil Spill in Chile

  • Fauna in the area has been affected by the oil spill.

    Fauna in the area has been affected by the oil spill. | Photo: Twitter / @Info5Chile

Published 19 October 2018

The spill is the largest ever registered in the region of Tierra del Fuego. 

In the southernmost region of Tierra del Fuego in Chile, an oil spill has unleashed an environmental emergency affecting at least 6,000 square meters, according to the National Emergency Office.  

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This is the largest spill registered in the Magallanes region. On Wednesday an oil leak from a plant owned by Chile’s National Oil Company (ENAP) and operated by YPF, Argentina’s Fiscal Oil Fields, reached the narrow river Chorrillo Paraguaya carrying the leak and affecting more land and water surface.

Chile’s regional secretariat for the Environment Ministry said, “the spill was contained in Rio Cullen, so it is affecting this river and several unnamed lakes.” Authorities don't expect the spill to reach the Strait of Magellan or the Atlantic Ocean.

Authorities have yet to determine what caused the leak while YPF confirmed they have recovered 60 percent of the leaked oil. 

"We will take all the measures to understand why these situations occur … and to determine what measures the companies will take to ensure these accidents do not take place because they generate gigantic environmental damage that we cannot accept,” Chile’s Environment Minister and businesswoman Carolina Schmidt said Thursday.  

Senators Guido Girardi and Aysen Ordenes of the Environmental Commission announced legal actions against those responsible for the spill. “We cannot be complacent. The minister has said that everything is under control — that’s a lie, everything is not under control, this cannot be controlled. It takes a long time to control and we are going to present a criminal suit for environmental reparation...” Girardi said.

Greenpeace Chile has also expressed their concern over the spill and announced they will monitor the situation to ensure "an effective and transparent response by the authorities to minimize the effects in the area."

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