Mediterranean Oil Spill Causes Millions in Damage to Israeli Coast

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More than 1,000 tons of black tar has washed up on Israel’s coastline from Libyan-owned tanker that was spilling the crude oil into the Mediterranean Sea.
Officials are calling it one of Israel’s worst ecological disasters in decades and are saying it has set back over 30 years of efforts to renew biodiversity along the coast. The source of the spill went unidentified for at least two weeks after tar was first sighted on beaches.
“I feel like I want to cry,” Shaul Goldstein, director of Israel’s nature and parks authority, tells the New York Times. “It’s everywhere — it’s even four to five inches thick in some places.”

Israel’s 120-mile Mediterranean coastline includes about 90 percent of the region’s beaches. Goldstein has been taking part in the effort to remove tar from the beaches, an endeavor that he says, despite the help of thousands of volunteers, police officers and soldiers, will take several months.
Already, a few employees of the nature and parks authority have had to be given supplemental oxygen after inhaling toxic tar fumes while cleaning up the beaches, a spokeswoman for the agency says.
One environmental activist, Moshiko Saadi, tells the Times he is “heartbroken” by the scene.
“So many people are cleaning and quickly filling bag after bag,” Saadi says. “But then you look up and you see there are still huge amounts everywhere. It makes you feel helpless.”

Marine life may also be seeing impacts of the spill. Just south of Tel Aviv, a 55-foot-long fin whale washed ashore a couple of days after tar started appearing on beaches. Veterinarians found black liquid in the whale’s lungs during a necropsy but have yet to confirm whether or not it was connected to the disaster.
The Israeli government pledged $13.8 million toward cleanup and response, which will come from the country’s Fund for the Prevention of Marine Pollution. Although this will help in the aftermath of the spill, experts are saying the incident itself shows bigger vulnerabilities in Israel’s maritime security.
To prevent future ecological disasters in the country’s waters, they say, Israel would need to invest in tracking devices such as satellites, as well as create a government task force responsible for monitoring and containing environmental disasters along Israel’s coast.

By Melissa Smith

Source: scuba diving

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