Officials have warned of continuing efforts to clean up the Israeli coasts due to a mysterious oil spill, without proper protective equipment for people, at a time when volunteers are working to remove oil deposits.
According to the Guardian, a number of civilian volunteers working to clean the beaches of the tar from the leak, were hospitalized for reasons believed to be inhaling toxic fumes.
Describing the scale of the disaster, one volunteer says, “The clean-up process may take decades.”
Israel has not yet announced the causes of the oil spill or its source, in the meantime, investigators are using satellite images to search for many ships that are likely to be the source of this environmental disaster, which extends over the Israeli coast of 195 km long.
But reports of the discovery of oil sands on the beaches of southern Lebanon raised fears of wider damage.
Environmentalists have warned of a real disaster after baby turtles and fish were found covered in black sediments.
The head of the Nature and Parks Authority in Israel, Shaul Goldstein, said it was “the worst environmental disaster in a decade,” at a time when the Minister of Environmental Protection, Gila Gamliel, announced that the clean-up would cost the state millions of dollars.
The minister said that Israel is studying the prosecution of the ship insurance company responsible for this pollution, noting that 9 ships that were in the area at the time of the accident are being verified.
Gamliel added, “It is our moral duty to determine who was responsible for the accident.”
However, the Guardian said it is possible that the country already has a good idea of who is responsible for the leak, but prefers to delay announcing it due to diplomatic sensitivities.
On Monday, an Israeli judge issued an order prohibiting publication of any information related to the investigation, including details identifying suspects of this catastrophic leak.
The Israeli government hopes to reopen the beaches to people by next March, after they are safe.
And official authorities urged people to avoid beaches for bathing, sports and entertainment until further notice.
“Exposure to tar could threaten the health of the public,” said a joint statement by several ministries.
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