Thursday, May 17, 2007

Update on Lebanon's oil spill

"Black slime coats beaches and oozes into rock pools in northern Lebanon, nine months after an oil spill led to international pledges to clean that stretch of coast. Oil clings to beach after beach north of Byblos, an ancient fishing port that is one of Lebanon’s main tourist attractions. Israel bombed an oil refinery in Jiyyeh, south of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, during its conflict with the armed wing of Lebanese political party Hezbollah last July. The bombing caused the refinery to spew an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 tons of fuel oil into the Mediterranean Sea. It was Lebanon’s worst environmental disaster, say environmentalists.

US state development agency USAID awarded a US $5 million contract to US company Seacor Environmental Services to clean roughly 60km of shore north of Byblos. Lebanon’s Environment Ministry oversaw the work. In January, USAID said the job was done, but Lebanon’s Ministry of Environment clarified that “phase one” was completed - the removal of free-floating oil and oil in danger of going back into the sea.

Bahr Loubnan clean-up supervisor and local resident Raif Nader said many beaches in the area had not been touched. “They didn’t do anything here. USAID told us Mother Nature would wash the rocks. Why does it cost $5 million just to let it wash back out to sea?” "

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