Petroecuador too slow on oil spill, says environment ministry

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ecuador's environment ministry has completed its investigation into an accident that saw some 1,300 barrels of oil spill into the Teaone river near coastal city Esmeraldas, state paper El Ciudadano reported.

Representatives from the Esmeraldas refinery (REE), controlled by state oil company Petroecuador, said the storage tank did not register that its capacity had been reached, allowing the spill to continue undetected for two hours.

The investigation found REE lacked equipment to prevent the spill from spreading and that personnel responded too slowly to the incident.

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REE's slow response caused environmental damage in the river and to some 5km2 in the region, local paper El Comercio reported. The cleanup will take up to six months to complete.

The environment ministry has yet to receive an official report from REE on the spill, its third environmental mishap this year. In September 2009, the ministry fined REE US$43,600 and requested an environmental cleanup plan from the firm.