2006 oil spill still lingers on our coasts

17Apr09

lebanon_oil_spillOn July 14 2006, the Israeli air force bombed the power plant at al-Jiyeh, a small seaside town in southern Lebanon. They bombed it again the next day. Up to 30,000 tonnes of fuel oil were spilled into the Mediterranean sea. The bombing raids were part of the one month war that Israel and the militant group Hezbollah fought out between them.

The war is over now, but the environmental destruction wrought by the conflict at Jiyeh is still being felt.
120 miles of the Lebanese coastline remain polluted.

Since 2006 the government has been busy with solving internal political problems and the oil spill remained a low priority for the Lebanese government and international donors,” said environmental activist Wael Hmaidan.
The Lebanese government initially said in 2006 the cleanup of spill would need 15 million dollars. The operation began after the 2006 war and ended in August 2007.
At the time the operation swept up 60 to 70 percent of the oil and helped contain most of the spill’s economic and environmental impact.

But much residue remains, even as the population of the surrounding towns and villages have gone back to their everyday activities, including swimming and commercial fishing.
Environmentalists warn that the residue could re-pollute the sea if left untouched, and pose a long-term threat to the ecosystem.

Most of the oil collected was free-floating; the hard part pollution stuck to the rocks remains untouched,” Hmaidan said.
The pressing issue of the oil spill prompted countries including Italy to donate earlier this month a scientific ship called Cana – after a south Lebanon village that suffered two massacres due to Israeli airstrikes in 1996 and 2006 – to identify, name and analyze the polluted areas.

The project has been funded almost entirely by the Italian-based International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies, in collaboration with Lebanon’s National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS).



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