EU to help Lebanon as oil slick looms
The EU will activate Europe’s civil protection mechanism for Lebanon as an environmental disaster looms over the Lebanese coast.
The EU is preparing to help Lebanon staunch the oil slick that already covers over 80km of the Lebanese coast after the Israeli bombing of the Jieh power plant.
At the behest of the Lebanese authorities, the EU will use the European commission’s monitoring and information centre (MIC) to organise the assistance to Lebanon.
“The recent oil spill off the coast of Lebanon could affect the livelihood and health of the Lebanese and people in neighbouring countries, as well as the status of the marine environment in the region” said EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas.
“With the help of the MIC, member states will be able to provide co-ordinated assistance, including experts and specialised materials.”
Between 10,000 and 35,000 tons of heavy fuel oil are thought to have already leaked from the Jieh facility, combining with other sources of pollution to create a growing slick.
The Lebanese government, overwhelmed by the scope of the disaster, has called for help as the Israeli marine embargo makes sending rescue teams impossible.
“If nothing is done, other countries will be affected as streams are moving to the north. Cyprus, Syria, Turkey, Greece or even Israel could be affected,” said Lebanese environment minister Yacub Sarraf.
“Mediterranean wildlife and ecosystems could be severly damaged. I have called on the UK, Italy, Spain, the US and all the countries that have already been affected by oil slicks for technical assistance, as we cannot act alone,” he added.
The EU is now expected to send specialised boats and other material needed for the clean-up operations.
According to the Lebanese governement, the cost of the operation could be as much as $50m.