SANTIAGO – The Chilean Navy has contained a massive oil spill into the sea near a remote island on the country’s southern coast, according to mining company CAP SA.
The 40,000-liter diesel oil spill occurred on Saturday at its onshore terminal on Guarello Island, about 150 miles (240 km) north of the town in Puerto Natales, and moved into the waters of the South Pacific, the navy said.
CAP, which mines limestone on the island, said in a statement Sunday that it initiated its protocol for the incident, which included control and mitigation measures.
“As an additional measure, a process of permanent monitoring of the area has been coordinated through a specialized foundation,” the statement added.
The Chilean navy sent a pollution response and control team to the island on the Chilean side of Patagonia, the pristine southernmost region making up the tip of both Argentina and Chile.
Several units of Armada de Chile were deployed to the area to control the spill, which had entered the waters of the South Pacific. It reported that by Sunday approximately 15,000 liters of contaminated seawater were contained. A barge and an ocean patrol boat were dispatched to the site as part of the recovery process.
The cause of the spill was not immediately clear, and the Chilean Navy has launched an investigation.
CAP said it will collaborate in the investigation into the cause of the spill.
Guarello Island, in the Magallanes region, has large reserves of limestone and is used 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.
Greenpeace Chile warned that the spill could have “devastating” environmental consequences.