- Alert !
Wed, 24 Jan 2001
Oil Spill – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador - 23 January 2001
1. On Wednesday, 17 January the ‘Jessica’, an
Ecuadorian-registered ship, ran aground on San Cristobal Island,
part of the Galapagos Islands archipelago, 1000 km off the coast
of Ecuador (maps attached).
2. Oil began leaking from the grounded ship on Friday, 19 January,
when a pipe in the ship’s machine room burst. The situation
worsened significantly over the weekend as bad weather and rough
seas pounded the hull of the Jessica increasing the rate of escape
the remaining fuel on board.
3. Although reports vary, indications are that some 650,000 litres
(144,000 gallons) of both fuel oil and bunker C (a heavier oil) of
the total 900,000 litres on board have leaked out.
4. On Sunday, 21 January, the Government of Ecuador made an
international appeal for assistance in responding and mitigating
the environmental impacts from the spill.
5. An 11-person strike team from the US Coast Guard, including 1
oil spill expert, arrived on Sunday with specialized equipment
including boom, floating nets, skimming equipment and high
capacity pumps. Some 75,000 litres of the spilled oil have been
recovered but the rough sea conditions have hampered the success
of the oil recovery efforts.
6. New reports indicate that the oil has now reached shore in many
areas and is expected to impact a wide variety of aquatic and
shoreline birds and animals for which the ecologically rich
Galapagos Islands are internationally known. Species that might be
potentially impacted (and some of which have already been affected
in a limited way) include the giant Galapagos turtles, sea lions,
sea iguanas and a wide array of sea and shoreline birds and plants.
7. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) as the lead
UN-agency for ship-source oil spills is coordinating international
response efforts. The International Tank Owners Pollution
Federation (ITOPF) has also dispatched several experts to assess
the damage and determine immediate response priorities.
The Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit has been in contact with the
IMO and has offered its assistance in mobilizing internationally
aid and expertise. In the interim, the Unit continues to closely
monitor the situation through its established international
network and will provide updates as new information becomes