TIERRA DEL FUEGO – YPF, an Argentine operated company, spilled over 720,000 liters of crude oil into a river near the Cullen area in the Magallanes region of Tierra del Fuego on Wednesday. The facility is being owned by Chile’s National Petroleum Company, Empresa Nacional del Petróleo (ENAP). The name of ENAP has also come up in the contamination crisis in Quintero.
After the leak, YPF immediately began the mitigation process, but it could take several weeks to finish it, according to authorities in Magallanes. In a statement released hours after the incident, YPF reported that the spill was contained and that work was being done to clean the affected area. YPF estimated that over 60% of the oil had already been recovered.
YPF also said that the Cullen river, a major body of water in the area, would not be affected and that, as part of the mitigation process, animals were being diverted from the affected area—which, according to an initial report, was only about the size of a football pitch.
YPF claimed that malfunctioning pumps in a storage unit caused the spill, but that the exact cause of the malfunction had yet to be determined. When talking about the incident, ENAP praised YPF’s quick actions and control mechanisms. ENAP also announced its support and promise to help.
720,000 liters of oil have leaked into Tierra de Fuego, causing severe damage to parts of the island. pic.twitter.com/Tg5KbAMF7I
— Chile Today News (@ChileTodayNews) October 19, 2018
Complaints from Greenpeace
Greenpeace was less sanguine. In fact, it made a complaint to the Superintendency of the Environment in Santiago, requesting sanctions against YPF. Greenpeace Campaign Coordinator in Chile, Estefanía González, warned that the spill “could seriously threaten the biodiversity of the area,” due to oil pollutants that “can affect the long-term reproduction and feeding systems” of the species there.
Greenpeace is adamant that the government not let the area be “gradually transformed into a new zone of sacrifice in Chile.”
Nicolás is a Bolivian social communications student. He currently lives in Santiago while he attends Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He has contributed on a number of Bolivian newspapers and also on many online magazines.