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Emergency Declared in Galapagos Freighter Accident

Date: May 19, 2014

Ecuador's Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has declared an emergency because of the stranded cargo freighter off the coast of San Cristobal. 
The Galapaface 1 ran aground in a bay adjacent to the island on May 9th. The Galapagos National Park said in a statement that it posed no immediate threat to the environment or to wildlife in the area. The freighter was carrying at least 60,000 liters of fuel oil and 1,000 tons of cargo at the time.
On Friday, May 16th authorities released another statement saying that the fuel and most of the cargo had been offloaded from the ship but that other pollutants, such as motor oil, remained and could pose a threat to the environment. 
Today, authorities declared a state of emergency, which will apparently free up state resources to remove the ship, which could reportedly take weeks and cost up to $6 million. 
"The ship is stranded and continues to present an environmental risk for the Galapagos Marine Reserve and must leave the area," Jorge Torres, the governor of the Galapagos, told the Efe news agency. 
According to our sources in the Galapagos, the hull of the ship is cracked and its engine room is flooded and the MOE has hired a company based on the mainland to increase flotation of the vessel using buoys and then tow it off the rocks.
Two visitor sites (Cerro Tijeretas and Punta Carola) on San Cristobal have reportedly been closed because of the incident. 
In 2001, the tanker Jessica ran aground near the same spot causing an environmental crisis which adversely affected several species.
IGTOA is monitoring the situation closely and have asked our partners in the Galapagos to keep us apprised of any new developments. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me if you have any additional information or questions or concerns.   

Matt Kareus

Matt is the Executive Director of IGTOA.


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