July 30th, 2006
THE UN Environment Program (UNEP) today expressed “grave concern” over the environmental crisis unfolding off the Lebanese coast, where thousands of tonnes of fuel are gushing into the sea after Israeli aircraft bombed a power plant.
The Nairobi-based UNEP said the oil slick, caused by the destruction of the Jiyyeh power utility 30 km south of Beirut, is now reported to be affecting up to 80 km of the Lebanese coastline and threatening that of Syria, too.
“The government of Lebanon has requested international assistance from the United Nations and we stand ready to do all we can as soon as it is possible to carry out this urgent work,” UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said.
“We share the Lebanese authorities concerns over the impact on coastal communities who are being affected by an environmental tragedy which is rapidly taking on a national but also a regional dimension.
“We must also be concerned about the short- and long-term impacts on the marine environment, including the biodiversity upon which so many people depend for their livelihoods and living via tourism and fishing,” he added.
Israeli forces bombed the tanks at the power station on July 14 and July 15, a few days into their offensive on Lebanon which has seen intensive air strikes across the country and a bloody ground incursion in the south.
The leak from one of the tanks, just 25 metres from the sea, has now stopped, but another containing 25,000 tonnes of fuel oil is still on fire and is in danger of exploding. Between 8000 and 10,000 tonnes of fuel are on the shore and 5000 on the open water. (….Full Article)
Public beach polluted with heavy fuel oil in Beirut