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The BBC's Tim Hirsch in the Galapagos
"It's an operation that could take several days"
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The BBC's Richard Bilton
"Environmentalists say the Islands got lucky this time"
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Friday, 26 January, 2001, 12:06 GMT
Tanker review after Galapagos spill
Stricken tanker Jessica
Heavy seas hinder efforts to right the tanker.
The Ecuadorian Government has announced a review of shipping regulations around the Galapagos Islands following the oil spill which came close to causing an environmental disaster.

The Environment Minister, Rodolfo Rendon, said all tankers should be required to have double hulls to reduce the chance of leaks if they run aground.

Efforts are continuing to re-float the stricken tanker, Jessica, which has spilled a million litres of oil into the sea around the Galapagos Islands.

Environmentalists have expressed relief that favourable winds and currents have limited the amount of oil washing up on the islands and affecting the unique wildlife of the area.

Navigational mistake

The US Coast Guard, which has been helping to contain the spill, said the tanker was 30 years old and would not have been allowed to operate in international waters.

The captain, the crew and owners of the tanker, could face charges carrying up to five years in prison over the accident.

Captain Tarquino Arevalo has already admitted that his navigational mistake while steering the Jessica into harbour on San Cristobal caused the spill.

Ecuadorean technician checks water
Scientists monitor water quality
The accident happened when the tanker ran onto a reef just off the island as it prepared to enter the harbour to deliver fuel.

Speaking in an interview with the BBC, Captain Arevalo admitted confusing two landmarks.

He was taken to hospital on Thursday after complaining of severe abdominal and lower back pain.

Stormy seas

Attempts to re-float the 835-tonne tanker in the harbour of San Cristobal Island have been delayed by problems with the towing gear and heavy seas.

Iguanas on Galapagos Islands
The unique wildlife has largely escaped the spill
It has not yet been decided whether the Jessica will be towed to deeper water and sunk, or taken to a port for repair.

Very little oil is believed to remain inside the tanker. Officials said the 1,200 sq. km (463 sq. mile) oil slick was continuing to drift northwards away from the islands.

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See also:

25 Jan 01 | Media reports
Press condemns Galapagos 'negligence'
24 Jan 01 | Americas
Third island hit by Galapagos slick
12 Jan 99 | Sci/Tech
Another Empress before long
31 Oct 00 | Europe
Chemical fears after tanker sinks
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