Freighter Runs Aground in Galapagos

No threat for now

May 12, 2014
Outside Magazine
OutsideOnline Galapagos islands oil spill tanker freighter Jessica 2001 San Cristóbal 2014 Ecuador Ecuadorean threat direct rocks swing puncture fuel crude diesel cargo hole

Ecuadorean soldiers (left) help civilians workers to retrieve oil from the tanker Jessica, which ran aground off San Cristóbal in 2001.    Dolores Ochoa/Associated Press

An Ecuadorean freighter carrying 16,000 gallons of fuel ran aground in Shipwreck Bay on the coast of San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands, on Friday.

"For the moment," the freighter* does not pose a direct threat to one of the richest ecosystems of biodiversity in the world, Agence France-Presse reported.

Divers confirmed that the freighter's stern, the portion perched on the rocky seabed, is far enough away from the fuel tanks still on board—again, for now.

But a major ebb tide and subsequent swell in sea level could swing the ship straight into the rocks. Workers with the Comité de Operaciones de Emergencia (San Cristobal) are currently offloading 2,500 gallons of diesel fuel and 1,100 tons of cargo, but if they move too quickly, the ship could pop up and swing into the rocks, puncturing its side and spilling whatever is left on board.

The Galapagos National Park Service drew up a contingency plan over the weekend in hopes to contain another Jessica spill.

*In a previous version of the story, the term "oil tanker" was incorrectly used.

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