State-owned company Petroecuador said it was investigating the cause of the spill that contaminated about 4km (2.5 miles) of coastline.
Authorities in the South American country of Ecuador confirmed that the oil spill released about 1,200 barrels into the Pacific, contaminating kilometers of ocean front.
Rafael Armendariz, the transport manager of the state-owned oil company Petroecuador, confirmed on Thursday that the incident happened a day earlier when a tank at the marine terminal in the port of Esmeraldas exceeded its capacity.
“Approximately 1,200 barrels were spilled,” Armendariz said in a press conference. “Not all of them fell ashore. A portion is entered into the pool within Petroecuador’s facilities.
About half of the crude oil spilled from Petroecuador’s facilities, spread over 4km (2.5 miles) of Las Palmas Beach, a popular destination for leisure and tourists.
An investigation into the cause of the spill is ongoing. General Manager Ramon Correa said that problems such as negligence, mechanical damage or sabotage cannot be ruled out yet.
Esmeraldas is about 150km (93 miles) south of Ecuador’s northern border with Colombia. The company said it controlled 90 percent of the spill’s impact on land and 60 percent in the sea through initial cleanup efforts.
Environment Minister Jose Davalos told Ecuavisa TV station that the spill could affect wildlife such as birds and crustaceans. He expects the cleanup to take about a week.
Davalos noted that he is waiting for an assessment from Petroecuador before deciding on appropriate sanctions.