Tuesday, February 23, 2021

“Its effects may extend for decades” … an environmental disaster in the Mediterranean


Three days ago, black tar stains were spreading off the southern Lebanese coast, threatening an environmental disaster that would affect decades.

Yesterday, the head of the Lebanese caretaker government, Hassan Diab, confirmed that he is following up on the oil spill, which was apparently caused by a ship passing near the coast of Israel and reaching the shores of southern Lebanon.

Israel warns

Earlier, the Israeli authorities warned residents against approaching the shore of the Mediterranean to avoid the major pollution caused by the leakage of tar from one of the ships, while thousands of workers and volunteers worked to clean the beaches.

A joint statement by the Ministries of Interior, Environment Protection and Health also called on the public not to use “beaches for bathing, sports and entertainment until further notice.” “Exposure to tar can threaten public health,” he added.

Scenes from the oil spill on the beach of Tire (Archives – France Press)

Strong winds and unprecedented high waves laden with tons of tar hit the coast of Israel on Tuesday and Wednesday, polluting 160 km of beaches, starting from Ras al-Naqoura in neighboring southern Lebanon, to Ashkelon in the northern Gaza Strip.

And it seemed that the tar that leaked during unloading “tens to hundreds of tons” of oil from one of the ships, according to the estimates of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the deaths of many marine organisms.

The horror of the disaster

On the other hand, Lebanese environmental activists warned of the horror of that disaster, warning that its effects could extend for decades, after the sticky black deposits that appeared on Israeli shores extended to a nature reserve in Tire, in southern Lebanon.

On the beach of the city of Tire, in southern Lebanon, the pictures showed the effects of the oil spill, which was visible to the naked eye on the water, and some of the water turtles that this southern coast is famous for.

The effects of the oil spill on turtles in Tire, southern Lebanon (France Press)

The effects of the oil spill on turtles in Tire, southern Lebanon (France Press)

Meanwhile, a number of civilian volunteers working to clean the beaches of tar were hospitalized for reasons believed to be inhaling toxic fumes.

For its part, the Lebanese government confirmed that it had informed the international emergency forces in Lebanon to prepare an official report.

Meanwhile, Israel is investigating a ship that passed on February 11 about 50 km off its coast as the possible source of the oil spill.

Suspicion ?!

But the strange and suspicious, according to what the British newspaper “Daily Telegraph” reported, Israel imposed a ban on publishing about “sensitive details related to its investigation of this oil spill, which experts say is one of the worst environmental disasters in its history.”

It stated in a report yesterday, “that an Israeli court, in an unusual move, issued on Monday a gag order regarding the investigation, preventing the media from publishing any details that could identify the suspects, the ships, their cargo, their destination and the port of departure.”





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