an oil spill caused by Israeli raids on a Lebanese power
plant could rival the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster that
ravaged the Alaskan coast, a UN agency says.
Not only is it NOT being cleaned up, Israel will not allow officials in to assess the damage and plan the clean-up. Lebanon, already on its knees appeals to the world for help.
UNEP chief Achim Steiner said: "We are dealing with a very serious incident and any practical steps are still constrained by the continuation of hostilities.
"While I fully understand the complexity and political implications, many are appalled ... that there has been no on-the-ground assessment to support the Lebanese government, no moves possible towards a clean-up and indeed few practical measures to contain the further spread of the slick."
al Jazeera claims 140km (86 miles) of the Lebanese coast is polluted and the slick is spreading into Syrian waters. While other news sources are reporting 70km (40 miles). It's spreading as I write, so that is a growing figure anyway.
From Bloomberg news:
The spill has yet to be cleaned up or assessed more than three weeks after the bombing of the coastal Jiyyeh power plant south of Beirut because of the continuation of hostilities, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Program, said in the statement.
The spill, which has polluted around two-thirds of the Lebanese coast and spread into neighboring Syria, may threaten East Mediterranean countries such as Cyprus and Turkey, Lebanon's Environment Minister Yacoub Sarraf has said.
Efforts to clean it up or minimize the damage have been blocked because Israel will not even allow officials to survey the damage so far.
The Israel navy also prohibited Lebanese and foreign officials from surveying the damage of the spill from Lebanon's territorial waters, the minister said. The spill has grown into a 3,000-square kilometer area because it absorbed water, Sarraf said.
See coast line of Lebanon This oil slick plus fuels from the power plant is killing endangered species like blue fin tuna and sea turtles. Every living thing it touches will die.
Lebanese Environment Minister Yacub Sarraf told AFP Saturday.Weep for Lebanon.
"It's without doubt the biggest environmental catastrophe that the Mediterranean has known and it risks having terrible consequences not only for our country but for all the countries of the eastern Mediterranean."
Sarraf said that owing to the Israeli blockade of Lebanon's waters, it was impossible to send ships to clear up the pollution.
"I have appealed to Britain, Italy, Spain, the United States, all the countries which have already suffered oil slicks to ask for technical assistance as we cannot act on our own," he said.
The Lebanese ministry of environment estimated that approximately 30,000 tons of heavy fuel oil were emmitted into the sea. From Melvin's link: Centre for Satellite Based Crisis Information