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Oil slick threat to wildlife of Mediterranean


A major oil slick was spreading north from Lebanon along the Syrian coast last night and could devastate beaches as far away as Turkey and Cyprus, local ecologists and the UN have warned.

The slick, which has been growing since the start of hostilities, follows the bombing by the Israelis of fuel tanks at the Jiyyeh power station south of Beirut. Up to 35,000 tonnes of crude oil are believed to have escaped, making it one of the worst pollution incidents recorded in the eastern Mediterranean.

Tourist resorts along the Lebanese coast have been covered with a thick layer of sludge and fish spawning grounds have been destroyed. The slick is estimated to be more than 50 miles (80km) long and to have polluted six miles of Syrian coastline.

"Every day that passes will increase the potential damage of this tragic incident," said UN environment programme director Achim Steiner. "The spill is rapidly taking on a regional dimension. We must also be concerned about the short- and long-term impacts on the marine environment, including the biodiversity upon which so many people depend for their livelihoods and living, via tourism and fishing."

The Lebanese and Syrian governments have asked Jordan, Kuwait and other countries for help in the clean-up operation, but access to much of the spill is said to be barred by an Israeli coastal blockade.

The regional marine pollution emergency response centre, based in Malta, confirmed yesterday that the oil had reached Syria. Environmental groups in Lebanon say the pollution could reach Turkey and Cyprus.

lebanon coast.jpg


From this satellite image, significant damage is being done by the oil slick right along the coastline...
lebanon coastal damage.gif


Had a quick search on net to see how this was doing as out in the med at end of month. Doesn't seem to be any recent reports.


16 August 2006 – An International Assistance Action Plan has been drawn up to deal with the oil spill off the Lebanese coast caused by Israel’s bombing of the Jiyyeh power station last month, a spokesman for the United Nations announced today.

The plan has been put together by experts under the supervision of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea – which is partly administered by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

A high level meeting to finalize the Action Plan will take place in Athens tomorrow, spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

On 8 August, two UN experts arrived in Syria to evaluate the consequences of the oil spill that has already polluted over 140 kilometres of Lebanese and Syrian coastline.

UNEP said the quantity of oil spilled in Lebanon is already comparable to the disaster caused in 1999 off the coast of France when the Erika tanker spilled an estimated 13,000 metric tonnes of oil into the Atlantic Ocean.

(United Nations)