40,000-Litres of Diesel Spill Into Pristine Patagonian Water


Photo: Chilean Navy

The Chilean Navy has confirmed a spill that has seen 40,000 litres (10,600 gallons) of diesel fuel make its way into the pristine biodiversity hotspot that is South America’s southern tip.


The Associated Press is reporting that the Chilean Navy had “received a call from the mining company CAP reporting the spill at the terminal of Guarello island, about 2,800 kilometers from Santiago… This is one of the planet’s most untouched, with important biodiversity.”


Ronald Baasch, Third naval Zone commander told the Associated Press that “the marine pollution control centre was activated,” meaning that containment measures were in place.

The cause of the spill remains at this point in time unknown, while the Chilean navy is currently working on its investigation into the incident. CNN is reporting that “Guarello Island, in the Magallanes region, has large reserves of limestone and issued by CAP as a mining base. The surrounding areas of Patagonia are home to a diverse range of ecosystems with rare flora as well as endangered species.”


The mining company that alerted the Navy to the spill has issued a statement saying it had been contained by a container sleeve in the area that removed the oil. “As an additional measure, a process of permanent monitoring of the area has been coordinated through a specialized foundation,” Cap said.


Greenpeace’s Chilean arm has released a statement on the news, calling the spill “devastating.”


“It’s an extremely grave situation considering the pristine nature of the waters in which this environmental emergency has occurred,” Matías Asun, Greenpeace’s Chilean Director said.


“It must be considered that the zone is extremely difficult to access and that it is an area of richness of marine mammals like whales and dolphins, which could see themselves seriously affected in their habitat given that when coming to the surface to breathe they could meet this layer of oil.”

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