Over 100 miles (161 km) of Israel’s normally pristine Mediterranean coast are tainted with thick tar globules washed away after an oil spill from the country’s coast last week. Authorities have not yet identified the culprit, but they say it is harmful to both humans and marine life.
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) called the spill “one of the most serious ecological disasters” and warned that it could take years to completely remove waste from beaches. According to the BBC..
Tar was first noticed on an Israeli beach on Wednesday (February 18) after a severe winter storm struck the coastline. The Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection estimates that 1,100 tonnes (1,000 metric tonnes) of tar have already been washed ashore. According to Al Jazeera..
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Oil spills usually form thin slicks across the surface of the water, some of which are washed away on the beach in a more liquid form. However, the spill of Israel turned into tarballs as the rough sea conditions broke the smooth ones and mixed them with seawater for several days to create small concentrated lumps of coagulant oil (tarballs). According to NOAA..
On Saturday (21 February), satellite imagery from the European Maritime Safety Agency showed that the spill was likely to have occurred about 31 miles (50 km) from the Israeli coast, but the spill was accurate. The cause and its cause are still unknown. do not know, According to Haaretz..
Thousands of volunteers gathered on Israeli coastline beaches as the storm subsided and tar was manually removed after environmental NGOs such as Ecoocean and Zalul requested the help of the general public. Soldiers from the Israeli army were also dispatched to deal with the cleanup work.
However, after inhaling the toxic gas emitted by the sludge, some volunteers had to be taken to the hospital. On Sunday (February 22nd), government officials closed the entire length of Israel’s 120 miles (195 km) Mediterranean coast to the general public due to health concerns.
Impact on marine life
According to Al Jazeera, it is still premature to know the exact impact of this spill on the marine environment, but authorities fear it could be very damaging.
On Wednesday (February 18th), a 55-foot (17-meter) long fin whale was launched on a beach in southern Israel, while Tar’s first globules were launched north. An INPA veterinary autopsy (animal autopsy) revealed that the whale’s stomach was filled with black liquid. Further tests being conducted will confirm whether the liquid is petroleum.
Several disastrous photographs of young sea turtles covered in black sludge washed across the coastline have also been circulated online. Haaretz reported that some were taken to the sea turtle rescue center in Israel, but many were already dead when they were washed away.
Whales, turtles, and seabirds are one of the marine animals at the highest risk of oil spills because they breathe and feed on the surface of the water.
“Imagine sealing the roof with tar. Imagine the whole world of living things being tarred and choked,” said Ruth Jahel, an INPA marine ecologist. It was. Talk to The Times of Israel..
And experts are worried that the stranded tar is only a small part of the toxic sludge that is still there.
Dor Adelist, a marine scientist at the University of Haifa, told the press Walla, “The biggest concern is that there is a lot of tar in the ocean that is currently poisoning wildlife and hasn’t reached us yet. “. , As reported by The Times of Israel.
According to the Israeli Times, environmental groups, including INPA, have criticized the government in the wake of the oil spill after numerous unsuccessful attempts to establish programs and funding to address the oil spill over the last two decades. .. As a result, when it started, there was no real plan to effectively deal with the difficult situation.
There is also some controversy about the origin of the spill.
The Department of Environmental Protection (EPM) was investigating many vessels that were believed to have been near the spill, which may have caused confusion. According to Al Jazeera, EPM Minister Gila Gamriel said, “We are making every effort to find the person responsible for the disaster. Tomorrow, we will get government approval for a resolution to restore the environment.”
However, on Monday morning (February 22nd), the judge issued a gag order on details about the oil spill. This will prevent Israeli media outlets from disclosing information about the identities of relevant suspects and vessels, such as cargo, destinations and ports, for a week. The Israeli news agency Haaretz has called the gag order an “abnormal move” and may suggest some cover-up.
The spill is also in line with the recent signing of an agreement announced in October 2020 to build a new oil pipeline between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel. Environmental groups oppose the project and say this spill is just a taste What if a leak from a new pipeline occurs?
Rachel Azaria, chairman of Life and Environment, a leading organization of 130 charities and NGOs, called the spill “a propaganda of a catastrophe that could be 250 times worse” and told The Times of Israel. It was.
Originally published in Live Science.
A mysterious oil spill covers the Israeli coastline with toxic tarballs
Source link A mysterious oil spill covers the Israeli coastline with toxic tarballs