Over 140 kilometres of Mediterranean coastline have been polluted after Israeli forces bombed a power station last month. Marine experts were unable to visit the worst affected areas while the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah continued, but Monday’s ceasefire has allowed them to begin on-the-ground assessments.
Local environmental and conservation groups said that some of the oil had settled on the sea floor, threatening areas where tuna spawn.
They also voiced concern that slicks on beaches would prevent young green turtles, an endangered species, from reaching the sea after they had hatched.
An International Assistance Action Plan has been drawn up to deal with the oil spill. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said the quantity of oil spilled in Lebanon is already comparable to the disaster caused in 1999 off the coast of France when the Erika tanker spilled an estimated 13,000 metric tonnes of oil into the Atlantic Ocean.
Whilst the damage at the moment is affecting Lebanon and Syria, the oil slick is moving towards Turkey. Greece and Cyprus are also threatened.