OCHA Situation Report No. 2
Oil Spill – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
8 February 2001
THE SITUATION IS LARGELY UNDER CONTROL
CLEAN UP AND MONITORING ACTIVITIES CONTINUE
MEDIUM- TO LONG-TERM ASSISTANCE REQUIRED
1. On 17 January 2001 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.
2. The spilled oil has reached the shore in many areas and impacted a
variety of aquatic and shoreline birds and animals for which the
ecologically rich Galapagos Islands are internationally known.
3. The Government of Ecuador considered the situation as a severe
environmental emergency. On 21 January, the Government made an
international appeal for assistance in responding and mitigating the
environmental impacts from the spill.
4. Since the onset of the emergency, the Government of Ecuador –through
the Ministry of
Environment- has established an emergency coordination mechanism which
includes the following components: scientific and technical issues,
communications and information, logistics support and coordination of
international assistance. The work has been focused on 1) evacuation of
the remaining fuel from the tanker, and 2) minimizing the impacts of the
5. An 11-person strike team from the US Coast Guard, including 1 oil
spill expert, arrived on 21 January with specialized equipment including
boom, floating nets, skimming equipment and high capacity pumps. A
significant amount of the spilled oil has been recovered in spite of the
rough sea conditions.
6. USAID/BHR/OFDA has contributed towards humanitarian relief efforts in
Ecuador associated with the oil spill (e.g. to assist non-commercial
fishermen whose livelihoods have been affected).
7. The Government of Canada has contributed financial aid, and a
Canadian oil industry expert has been on scene providing clean up
advice. He is continuing to reside on scene in order to develop a
monitoring plan. The Canadian authorities have also offered to Ecuador
other types of expertise, analysis and scientific advice.
8. The Government of the United Kingdom has provided financial
assistance in connection with the oil spill response.
9. The German authorities have sent two experts to the accident site.
10. Following a request from the Ecuadorian authorities, the European
Commission has dispatched three experts of the European Task Force
dealing with accidental marine pollution. The three experts, from Spain,
France and the United Kingdom, are specialists in operational, technical
and biodiversity aspects of marine pollution. They have helped the
Ecuadorian authorities to define the best means of minimizing the impact
of the pollution and to ensure the recovery of affected areas of the
Galapagos Islands. Based on the experts' assessment of the situation
further EU action and financing will be decided.
11. UNDP Ecuador is to release two projects in collaboration with the
Ministry of Environment: the first, with funding from GEF, is focused on
enhancing contingency and preventative plans against similar future
incidents; while the second, funded by UNV, is directed towards the
support of volunteers engaged in clean-up activities as well as the
establishment of stand-by volunteer services on the islands.
12. UNESCO has released an emergency assistance contribution to support
various activities in Galapagos clean-up operation.
13. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has made an emergency contribution to help
fund clean-up efforts on the Galapagos Islands in the wake of the oil
spill. It has also announced it was setting up a special Galapagos
Emergency Response Center to monitor the clean up and help mobilize the
financial and technical resources necessary to mitigate the long-term
damage. The WWF coordinator on Galapagos has been asked to coordinate
the wildlife recovery activities within the Galapagos National Park. WWF
medium-term activities would include:
- maximizing wildlife recovery from the oil spill and ensuring that
measures are taken to prevent and respond to any future oil spill;
- providing technical support to improve the implementation of the
Galapagos Special Law;
- promoting international support for effective conservation of the
- supporting the Government of Ecuador in taking legal action in
connection with the oil spill.
14. Cash contributions, as reported to OCHA, include the following:
Canada CAD 100,000
United Kingdom GBP 50,000
UNESCO USD 50,000
USAID/BHR/OFDA USD 225,000
World Wildlife Fund USD 100,000
UNDP / GEF USD 500,000
UNDP /UNV USD 22,000
15. As the spilled diesel and bunker fuel is drifting through the
archipelago and washing up on the shores of the islands, the Galapagos
National Park Service (GNPS) and the Charles Darwin Research Station
(CDRS) are working, in collaboration with national and local
authorities, and local residents, to prevent environmental damage by
cleaning up the oil that is approaching sensitive coastal areas. The
clean up work may continue for a few months, depending on the eventual
distribution and scale of pollution on the coastline, and will require
large amounts of special materials and equipment. It will also require
temporary storage sites and eventual shipping to the mainland for
disposal or recycling.
16. This labour-intensive effort is guided by technical work of the CDRS
and GNPS, with specialist assistance. This comprises aerial surveys to
detect the outer limits of the pollution and then to look for specific
patches of bunker. The aerial surveys are backed up by marine surveys.
Another important task is the rescue and rehabilitation of seabirds, sea
lions and other wildlife affected by the oil. Furthermore rapid
biological surveys have been carried out in high-risk sites to obtain a
baseline before the pollution hits.
17. The Ministry of Environment of Ecuador has mobilized important
resources for clean-up operations and for mitigation impact of the
18. Once the spill itself is over and all the bunker fuel and diesel is
either on shore or beyond the archipelago, a systematic survey will be
carried out to map the affected areas and decide which need cleaning
up. Biological impacts will be evaluated in the affected areas – this
will be a very intensive scientific task - and sites will be selected
for monitoring over the coming 2-3 years. These include both polluted
sites and control sites for comparison.
19. To provide administrative and logistical support for this effort and
for the long period of monitoring that follows, the Charles Darwin
Foundation will set up and equip a special support team and contract
procurement and shipping agencies, as needed.
REQUIREMENTS FOR FINANCIAL SUPPORT
20. The Government of Ecuador, through the Ministry of the Environment,
has incurred important expenditures in order to mobilize emergency
equipment and expert support to act immediately in this environmental
crisis. Donor support is needed to cover some of these costs which
amount to over USD 1 million.
Period February – April 2001
21. In addition to technical assistance already provided from various
sources, the GNPS and CDRS require approximately USD 860,000. This would
cover, in particular, costs of expertise and assessment, special
clean-up and laboratory supplies and equipment, supplies for animal
rescue and rehabilitation, fuel, boat charters, purchase of two boats
and outboard engines, air transport, telecommunications, and related
services and miscellaneous equipment.
Period May 2001 – April 2003
22. After the first phase of intensive clean-up and evaluation of
impacts, comes the extended period of monitoring the recovery of sites
and of wildlife. Meanwhile, complementary work will be done on improving
the regulatory framework to prevent environmental disasters. Contingency
plans will be prepared for future incidents and the trained personnel,
facilities, equipment, networks of contacts and financing mechanisms
will be put in place, so that Galapagos is fully prepared for
emergencies. For these purposes, the estimated requirements are USD
23. The above requirements do not cover other costs, already incurred
and projected, by other Ecuadorian governmental agencies and other
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