International cooperation during oiled wildlife response in Chile

Responders from Brazil and Argentina were called in to assist with an oiled wildlife incident in Chile after a small spill at an oil terminal.  On 24 September 2014, the MT Mimosa lost 22,000 litres of oil at a Quintero Bay, Chile terminal. In the wake of the spill 36 live and 13 dead birds, including pelicans, grebes and cormorants, were collected.

Empresa National del Petroleo (ENAP) and the Chilean National Fisheries Service (SERNAPESCA) requested assistance in setting up a temporary wildlife rehabilitation centre at the Universidad San Tomás veterinary hospital. The Servicio Agricola y Ganadero (SAG), responsible for avian conservation, was also involved in this process.

In addition to training local personnel in internationally recognised best practices for husbandry and medical care of oiled wildlife, the IFAW Animal Rescue team responders also spoke with SERNAPESCA staff about ongoing needs for effective oiled wildlife response and began a process for continuing to work with the government, local agencies and the Universidad Santo Tomas to increase response capacity in Chile.

Large spills often draw the most attention but this spill was a reminder that smaller incidents can be useful in giving wildlife responders experience under less difficult circumstances. Working closely with experienced oiled wildlife personnel, local staff gain skills and knowledge, and a collaborative relationship is established resulting in improved care for the animals impacted by the spill and a faster, more professional response when the next spill occurs.