War in Lebanon Brings About the Biggest Environmental Catastrophe in the History of the Country 15,000 ton Oil Spill from Jiyyeh Power Plant Hits Most of the Lebanese Coast
The oil slick appeared for the first time last week on the once beautiful
This is definitely one of the worst environmental crisis in Lebanese history, declared a group of local environmental NGOs working on this issue (1). Just for the sake of comparison, in 2003 a 50 ton oil spill in the North was a huge blow to the Lebanese coastal environment. The current spill is 300 times bigger, and there is a big possibility that more oil will go into the sea.
These NGOs added that the Mediterranean marine environment will suffer tremendously for several years from this spill. The Lebanese coast is a very important site for fish spawning and sea turtle nesting, including the green turtle, which is an endangered species in the
During the month of July, turtle eggs start to hatch and all baby turtles will need to reach deep waters as fast as possible. With the oil slick in their way baby turtles will have no chance of making it. Also, Blue Fin Tuna, which is a very important commercial species in the Mediterranean and which has been under severe stress from over-fishing, are present in the Eastern Mediterranean coastal water in this period of the year. The oil spill, of which part of it has settled on the sea floor, will threaten the blue fin tuna and other fish species spawning areas.
Another important impact of the spill is the effect on tourism in the future. The Lebanese coast is an important tourist destination, and after the war ends,
This oil spill is bigger than what the local authority can handle and urgent help is needed from outside, declared the NGOs. The Ministry of Environment has organized a team to follow on this issue, and have requested help from the United Nations Environmental Program and the
Nevertheless, the constant Israeli air raids will make the operation very difficult, and an immediate cease fire is needed if we want to save
Notes to editor:
(1) The Lebanese environmental NGOs include: Bahr Lubnan Association,
Union of Professional Divers, and Green Line Association; which are prominent local Non-Governmental Organizations known for their work in protecting the Mediterranean Sea in
(2) Other Environmental impacts of this war include air pollution and chemical spills due to the targeting of industrial factories, fuel bunkers, and other flammable structures; the use of depleted uranium in Israeli bombs, and the huge waste and sanitary crisis resulting from the 750,000 refugees in Lebanon, which can lead to water pollution and the spread of diseases.