AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

Oil Spill Occurs in the Galapagos Islands; Emergency Declared

By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

One of the most worrisome types of environmental emergencies is an oil spill in the open ocean, due to the potential for the oil to kill wildlife, contaminate water and permanently damage coral reefs. Because of the nature of these emergencies, it is particularly important for authorities to handle an oil spill swiftly in order to prevent further damage to the environment.

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The Ecuadorian government is currently working to clean up after an oil spill near the Galapagos Islands that occurred on Sunday, December 22. Fortunately, the Ecuadorian government reacted soon after the disaster occurred.

Galapagos Islands Oil Spill Dumps 600 Gallons of Diesel into the Water

According to an article published by the New York Times, a barge sank and dumped 600 gallons of diesel into water near the Galapagos Islands. Another article published by ABC News reporter Karma Allen says that “the spill occurred off San Cristobal Island when a barge carrying 600 gallons of diesel fuel collided with a crane at the La Predial pier on Sunday. The crane was loading a container onto the barge when it suddenly tipped over onto the barge, sinking the vessel.”

Ecuadorian Government Quickly Declares an Emergency

Ecuadorian government authorities declared an emergency soon after the incident. ABC News also reported that “Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno said he declared the state of emergency when the collision first occurred but said the situation was under control as of early Monday.” ABC News added that “Park and naval crews were on site Monday, laying out containment barriers and absorbing cloths to contain the spill, but the extent of the damage is unknown.”

Oil Spill Containment Technology

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Office of Response and Restoration, containing an oil spill needs to happen quickly, but there’s also a lot of technology that goes into it. NOAA says booms and skimmers are some of the most important elements of managing an oil spill.

The NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration notes that “Booms are floating, physical barriers to oil, made of plastic, metal, or other materials, which slow the spread of oil and keep it contained.” Skimmers are “boats and other devices that can remove oil from the sea surface before it reaches sensitive areas along a coastline.”

Ecuadorian Government Monitoring Progress of Oil Spill Cleanup

It is currently unclear what specific procedures the Ecuadorian government is using. As the cleanup continues, authorities in Ecuador will ultimately need to continue evaluating the progress of containing the oil spill.

Allison G. S. Knox teaches in the fire science and emergency management departments at American Military University and American Public University. Focusing on emergency management and emergency medical services policy, she often writes and advocates about these issues. Allison serves as an Intermittent Emergency Management Specialist with the Department of Health and Human Services, as At-Large Director of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and as Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees with Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences. She is also chair of Pi Gamma Mu’s Leadership Development Program. Prior to teaching, Allison worked for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. and in a Level One trauma center emergency department. She is an emergency medical technician and holds multiple graduate degrees.

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