Oil slick spreads into Saronic

Parts of a 200-square-meter oil slick found off the island of Salamina and Megara, west of Athens, had slipped off yesterday and washed into other parts of the Saronic Gulf, causing further problems for the cleanup operation still under way. The coast guard was joined by locals and municipal officials as they continued efforts to limit the damage to the marine environment late yesterday. The Merchant Marine Ministry had said on Tuesday that the cleanup operation had been completed but it seems that strong winds caused part of the oil spill to come off and spread over a 2-kilometer stretch. Authorities were also continuing efforts yesterday to locate who was responsible for the oil slick, initially detected on Monday. The coast guard said that there would have been better damage control if more resources had been made available. The president of the coast guard workers’ union, Tassos Mavropoulos, told Skai Radio that a lack of personnel and equipment is harming efforts to protect the local marine environment. According to the Merchant Marine Ministry, there were 119 oil slicks caused by ships in Greece in 2005, while another 47 were said to have come from land-based petrol reserves. A total of 249 decisions were made by authorities against parties deemed to have been involved in oil spills last year. The guilty parties were slapped with fines of up to 872,286 euros, according to the ministry. Meanwhile, officials from the United Nations, the European Union and the International Maritime Organization are set to meet in Athens today to map out a strategy for containing a massive Mediterranean oil spill caused by the conflict in Lebanon. Nearly 15,000 tons of leaked oil from the Jiyyeh electric plant, bombed by Israel last month, has polluted some 140 kilometers of the Lebanese coast and spread north into Syrian waters. Officials said that the purpose of the meeting is to coordinate a common strategy to confront the pollution and to devise actions to prevent the possible expansion of the oil spill.

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