Oil spill reaches the coast of southern Athens


The oil spill created by a small tanker that sank in the Saronic Gulf on Sunday reached the shores of the capital’s southern suburbs on Wednesday, prompting criticism that relevant authorities did not do enough to contain its spread.

According to reports, the coastlines of the suburbs of Aghios Cosmas, Elliniko, Alimos, Glyfada, Piraiki and Freattyda have all been impacted by the spill, and more than 10 anti-pollution vessels were deployed on Wednesday in the effort to contain its spread.

The Shipping Ministry said that work to seal the tanker, which had a cargo of 2,200 tons of fuel oil and 370 tons of marine gas oil, was completed on Wednesday.

The spill has already created an environmental disaster on the island of Salamina, covering a 2.5 kilometer stretch of coastline with oil, while estimates say that at least 300 tons of oil have leaked from the tanker.

A pumping operation to remove oil from the ship began on Wednesday and is expected to last 20 days, depending on the weather.

The clean-up efforts will also be boosted by the European Maritime Safety Agency, which will provide a special vessel that can also be used at night. The ship has been hired by an individual.

“It will take a few more days to remove the biggest quantities from the sea,” said Vasilis Mamaloukas, a director of one of the companies involved in the clean-up project.

“I think it will be hard to prevent it from reaching other coastal areas. However, this situation will only last a few days and, at the same time, whatever reaches the shore will be removed.”

The general secretary of the Shipping Ministry, Dionysis Kalamatianos, rejected criticism that the authorities were slow off the mark, saying the ministry’s response was immediate and that work to depollute the sea started just four hours after the Agia Zoni II tanker sank off the coast of Psyttaleia.