Grounded Petrol Tanker Threatens Galapagos (VIDEO)


A tanker run aground off the coast of San Cristobal. (Photo courtesy of WikiMedia.)

Here’s yet another oil-related emergency speckling your news feed — a petrol tanker running aground in the Galapagos Islands last week is now being declared an emergency by Ecuador, fearing the remaining contaminants could threaten the ever-so-fragile ecosystem of the archipelago.

The Galapaface I’s cargo has been emptied over the last week since the Ecuadorean ship ran aground off the dodgy coast of San Cristobal last Friday, carrying over 15,400 gallons of diesel, but authorities are concerned remaining and residual pollutants inside — such as motor oil — could spill and contaminate what was declared a “World Heritage Site” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1978. The governor of the Galapagos stated similar concern, himself. The Efe News Agency quotes Jorge Torres as saying:

The ship is stranded and continues to present an environmental risk for the Galapagos Marine Reserve and must leave the area.


Marine iguana. (Photo courtesy of Flickr.)

That “area” is roughly 1,000 kilometers, or 625 miles off the coast of South America — a tourist haven if there ever was one. Many unique animals one cannot find in any other part of the world can be found in the Galapagos. There, animals like the marine iguana, giant tortoise, the flightless cormorant and blue-footed boobies are now all in danger of the great dark bloom washing over them like some kind of 1950s horror flick.

And Torres has reason to worry — the Galapaface I is not the first tanker to run aground in the Galapagos. Another petrol ship tanked in 2001, again off the coast of San Cristobal, contaminating the area with fool and nearly wiping out the marine iguana population.

Crews are currently working to remove the tanker and preserve the ecosystem the best they can, however. Ecuador says declaring an official emergency helps open up additional resources to hopefully remedy the problem more efficiently, and effectively.

As a result of the emergency declaration the Risk Management Secretariat will be able to directly carry out the purchase of goods, the procurement of services and the work that are required to overcome this emergency.

There was no mention of how long removal of the tanker is expected to take.