(Adds statement from Marine Harvest)
SANTIAGO, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Chile’s environment ministry on Monday accused the local unit of Norway’s Marine Harvest of damaging the environment after hundreds of thousands of salmon escaped from one of the company’s fisheries last month.
The ministry said in a statement that it had asked the State Defense Council, which represents the government in legal matters, to investigate the incident and initiate legal action against Marine Harvest with the aim of repairing the environmental damage.
Some of the 600,000 fish that swam into the wild last month after a storm damaged enclosures near the southern city of Calbuco had been injected with a course of antibiotics that was incomplete at the time of their escape, making them unfit for human consumption.
In a statement, Marine Harvest Chile said it “has full trust in our country’s institutions” to investigate the incident and said it was working on “normalizing its operations after the contingency.”
The company has previously downplayed the threat posed to the environment by Florfenicol, the antibiotic.
Chile is the world’s second-largest producer of salmon, after Norway. (Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Sandra Maler)