Ecuador Oil Spill Blamed on 'human error' Sullies Waters, Local Beach

Credit: mrpeak/AdobeStock
Credit: mrpeak/AdobeStock

An offshore oil spill near Ecuador's coast reached a popular beach on Wednesday, authorities said, while also showing up in nearby waters as one local official blamed "human error" following a preliminary investigation into the incident. 

State oil company Petroecuador, which runs the Balao maritime terminal where the spill originated, said in a statement it had mobilized workers to contain it but did not disclose how much crude was unleashed into the ocean. 

The company added it had launched clean up efforts. Ecuador's environment ministry also did not make public the volume of oil in a separate statement, but said it would ensure clean up of the affected area. 

A military helicopter survey of the affected area showed blackened waves stretching along the shoreline depositing a viscous substance on the beach, according to video posted on Twitter. 

The spill is located close the city of Esmeraldas, about 200 miles (322 km) north of the capital Quito, near Ecuador's border with Colombia.

 "The preliminary information shared with us is that this happened due to human error," Alex Benalcazar, Esmeralda's local environment director, told reporters. He confirmed that a section of the city's Las Palmas beach was affected. In its statement, Petroecuador noted that its export and fuel supply activities were not affected by the spill. 

(Reuters - Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Sandra Maler)

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