(Jun 18, 2007)

Wood pulp producers spill pollutants into Chilean river

From AP

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - One of Chile's largest wood pulp producers said it accidentally spilled up to 50,000 liters (13,200 gallons) of pollutants Monday into a river in southern Chile where thousands of fish were killed by a chemical spill earlier this month.

Celulosa Arauco, which runs the Licancel plant, said Monday a pipe at the plant ruptured spilling ''treated effluents'' into the Mataquito river, near the city of Talca.

The same plant was temporarily shut down by authorities earlier this month pending an investigated into the death of fish in the Mataquito, killed by a spill apparently from the same plant.

Environment Minister Ana Lya Uriarte called Monday's accident ''especially serious, because we are witnessing a new spill affecting Mataquito river at a time when the plant is prohibited from functioning.''

The livelihoods of thousands of fishermen who work the river have been threatened by the spills, authorities said.

Celulosa Arauco said in a statement it had stopped work at the plant after the government's shutdown order and that the liquid spilled Monday was being stored at the time of the accident. It said the plant will remain closed indefinitely.

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