'Not a single species' affected by Galapagos fuel spill

2019-12-24 10:36
A volunteer holds a detergent plastic bottle collected on Isabela Island in the Galapagos archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. (Rodrigo Buendia, AFP)

A volunteer holds a detergent plastic bottle collected on Isabela Island in the Galapagos archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. (Rodrigo Buendia, AFP)

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The Galapagos Islands' unique wildlife was spared after a barge carrying 2 200 litres of diesel fuel sank, causing a spill, the Ecuador government said on Monday.

"Not a single species has been affected by the spill in San Cristobal," the easternmost island in the chain, said Environment Minister Raul Ledesma.

He added that a team of veterinarians was onsite checking animals.

READ | Tonnes of garbage cleaned up from Galapagos coast

Authorities activated emergency protocols Sunday morning to contain the environmental impact of the spill in the Galapagos archipelago, a Unesco World Heritage Site that is home to one of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet. They declared the situation "under control" later that day.

Sea lions, tortoises, birds and reptiles such as iguanas live on the islands, but "none have been affected in this incident, nor have the tourist areas," said Ledesma.

The accident, in which one person was injured, occurred in a San Cristobal port when a crane collapsed as it loaded a container holding an electric generator onto a barge.

The falling container destabilized the ship, which was carrying 2 200l of diesel fuel, causing it to sink.

The generator and the loading crane were also submerged.

Ledesma credited the emergency units' prompt response for preventing "greater misfortune".

"During the night, almost the entire contaminated area was cleaned up," he said. "This morning, there was only a small oil patch that we hope to eliminate in the next few hours."

The Galapagos Islands, located 1 000km east of mainland Ecuador, helped English naturalist Charles Darwin to develop the theory of evolution.

Read more on:    ecuador  |  environment
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