Oil Spill Off the “Israeli”-Occupied Coast Now Covers Entire Lebanese Shoreline
By Staff, Agencies
Nearly two months on from the oil spill off the coast of Israel that polluted the Lebanese coastline, local authorities are still witnessing daily new arrivals of sticky black lumps onto the sand, creating an environmental disaster for citizens and wildlife and threatening to harm the start of the beach season for local businesses.
A report published Thursday, the second survey assessing the impact of the oil spill on Lebanon’s shores, by the state-run National Council for Scientific Research detailed high levels of pollution at 62% of locations assessed up and down the coast.
Dr. Milad Fakhry, director of the Marine Science Center at the National Council for Scientific Research, told The Daily Star that the oil pollution had reached the entire Lebanese coast.
“With each new storm [hitting Lebanon], we are getting new waves of oil, tar ... before it was concentrated in the south, but now it is spread all over the Lebanese coast.”
The report assessed oil deposits at 32 coastal locations including Naqoura, Sidon and Beirut, with 20 areas marked as level 5 by the researchers, equaling a high level of pollution. Other locations further north including in beaches in Aamchit, Batroun and Tripoli were scaled down to 3, a "medium" level of pollution.
As a result of the disaster, the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Center for the Mediterranean Sea a subsidiary of UN Environment Program were called in by the Environment Ministry on March 9, a few weeks after the spill first hit Lebanon’s shores on Feb. 22. Last week the group released a statement regarding their findings:
“Patches of black petroleum and tar balls were found in coastal areas, mostly in the South, in particular in Nakoura, El Bayada, El Mansouri and in the Sour protected areas [Chawatina, Sour Rest house], as well as the protected areas of El Abbasiyeh.”
In Lebanon, the devastation of the oil spill is not just a concern for the ecological state of the country, but also adds further distress at a time of intense political and economic instability for citizens.
The experts have been working to clarify concerns that it is still safe to swim and eat locally sourced fish.