What a way to end up the year: a petrol stain four kilometers long arrived last Thursday to the coast of Caleta Cordova City at Chubut province, about 1860 kilometers south from Buenos Aires and is now moving open seas.
The origin? Still unknown, but when it arrived to the coast, it had been on the Ocean for a few days. In the area there is a port terminal that operates 5,5 million cubic meters of petrol a year, so many units could have caused the spill. The most possible speculation, according to El Chubut newspaper, points in the direction of the Presidente Arturo Illia tanker, which used to belong to YPF and suffered a huge accident of the same sort ten years ago in a nearby city called Bahia Blanca. Also, says AFP, to a petrol buoy operated by a company called Termap, from which ships that cannot get near the coast load the petrol.There are too many annoying and frustrating things about this: two of the most important ones being that the ship that caused the stain didn't do or say anything and neighbors had to alert local authorities when the stain was already near the coast; and the fact that the beach the petrol is now in took years to be cleaned after bad practices with petrol in the 60s and 70s.
The stain that got to the beach is not the only one, as inside the ocean there are several other stains that form an area of 40 kilometers contaminated with petrol and are moving open seas. Pictures of penguins, sea wolfs and birds covered with black are already surfing the web and the fear is that at open sea, more birds get contaminated.
A national brigade of specialists and navy personnel in the area arrived last Friday and started to remove petrol with spools, because the area is hard to get to with big equipments (note the cliffs in the pictures). A group of volunteers is also trying to save stained animals.
Los Andes newspaper informs that the local government has filed a report against the company that operates the port (conformed by petrol companies) before the federal justice and has announced it is going to demand companies for over 50 million US dollars. Before that, it had requested the list of ships that used the terminal during the last ten days to determine possible causes.
It is left to see, however, if liable entities are found and actions are taken against them. According to Monica Raimundo, Environment Ministry of Chubut province, "If the ship had informed about the accident, it probably wouldn't have arrived to the coast."
Image of the stain over the beach at Caleta Cordova.
Workers over the area trying to clean the petrol from the sand.