The Electricity and Fuel Superintendent (SEC), a government oversight office, this week fined Chile fuel provider Copec 279 million Chilean pesos (€406,000) for leaking more than 7,000 gallons of fuel at its newly inaugurated Pureo plant in Calbuco, south of Puerto Montt.
SEC spokesperson Luis Avila Bravo said the stiff fine was necessary to keep accidents like this from reoccurring. ‘When a company violates safety norms, we have to take action,’ says Avila. Avila explained that the new storage facility had four design errors that resulted in the leaked fuel.
The oil spill occurred on 6 September, the day the new plant was opened for business. The spill created considerable concern among the local fishing and fish farming community. A local court shut down two of the seven storage tanks, pending an investigation by authorities. Petitioners had asked to shut down all seven holding tanks, each with a capacity of 5.3 million gallons.
The new Pureo oil storage facility was strongly opposed by local fish and mollusk farmers when first announced by government and company authorities two years ago.
But after repeated promises by Copec that the new facility would be ‘state of the art’ and after satisfying all environmental reviews imposed by the state, the storage facility was finally inaugurated in late August.
Of the 7,000 gallons reportedly spilled by COPEC, 6,000 were either recuperated or removed from the environment.