The Governing Council of Galapagos (CGG) and the Emergency Operations Committee (COE) have announced that the pumping of polluted water out of the grounded freighter Floreana has resumed. The ship ran aground January 28 at Shipwreck Bay off San Cristóbal Island, Galápagos. An earlier attempt at pumping out the Floreana was halted March 11 due to heavy sea swells.
In a March 20 communique, the agencies said: “Now that the sea conditions in Shipwreck Bay have been normalized, Thursday afternoon March 19 the barge Tatita began the pumping process.” They added that crews also removed rotting garbage that had generated strong odors and prompted complaints from citizens of Baquerizo Moreno.
200 tons of cement will remain on the ship as the authorities do not consider it as a source of environmental pollution.
Within about ten days, the agencies say, the ship will be refloated and towed off the Galapagos Marine Reserve where it will be sunk, weather and tides permitting. The final removal of waste water will be in international waters in accordance with regulations of the International Maritime Organization to prevent pollution in the marine reserve.
As we reported in Galapagos Digital, delays in the rescue operations caused the Emergency Operations Committee to issue an ultimatum to the owner of the Floreana and legal representative of the Galapagueña Corporation to accelerate the operation. Meanwhile the authorities promptly issued permits to expedite the work.
Finally the committee announced that it has initiated legal action against the owners of the Floreana “for breach of their obligations.” That was coupled with a demand that the ship’s owners reimburse local businesses and individuals who worked on salvaging cargo from the Floreana when it initially ran aground.