MONTEVIDEO – An oil spill in a Uruguayan stream as a result of a hosepipe explosion during maintenance tasks on an oil pipeline caused “very minor” environmental damage, officials said Saturday.
The spill affected the coasts and waters of the Solis Grande stream, located some 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Montevideo, which empties into the River Plate.
When the explosion occurred, employees of the state fuel company ANCAP, firefighters and municipal officials “acted quickly – they managed to contain the oil spill to prevent the situation from becoming serious,” Jorge Roux, director of the National Environmental Board, said.
The amount of oil spilled, which according to ANCAP authorities was “very little,” affected some 50 square meters (540 square feet), the official said.
ANCAP personnel drilled several wells on one bank of the stream and managed to contain the crude, while elements of the National Naval Command put oil booms in the water to keep the slick from spreading.
The accident occurred Friday afternoon and forced a shutdown of the oil supply between the Jose Ignacio Buoy in the Atlantic Ocean and the La Teja Refinery in Montevideo.
A south wind blowing through the area “aided the job of controlling the oil spill and keeping it from reaching the waters of the River Plate,” Roux said.
The area is considered particularly sensitive for fish of the region because the estuary where the Solis Grande stream pours into the River Plate is the spawning ground for a number of species.