ATHENS – The sight of Athens’ southern coast was disheartening on Wednesday as multiple oil slicks have popped up in almost every beach from Piraeus to Glyfada, following the sinking of the small tanker “Agia Zoni II” in Salamina last Sunday, giving out a strong stench.
Freattyda, Piraiki, the beach of Paraskevas and the sea in front of the Naval Academy are the beaches polluted in Piraeus. Further down the coast, on the beaches of Aghios Kosmas, Elliniki and Glyfada, the pollution has almost reached the sun loungers.
Police has banned swimming in all the beaches placing special ribbons. According to the latest information, a private crew of 60 people is trying to remove the pollution since this morning.
The company that owns the tanker, “Agia Zoni shipping Co.”, said in a press release earlier today that the vessel has been sealed and there is no more leakage, adding that efforts are continuing to pump out the remaining fuel.
“We declare our unconditional support to the residents, businesspeople and local authorities. For our part, immediately after the sinking of the ship, which is a huge blow to us, our staff and our families, we instructed the private company that undertook the work of decontamination, to do all that is humanly and technically possible to fully clean the affected area. We have assurances that this is what will happen,” it said.
“At any case, we are and remain in continued communication with all the competent authorities to fully restore the environment,” it added.
Piraeus mayor Giannis Moralis said he was worried about the extent of the pollution. “It is essential that our coast is cleaned, but we will look for those responsible,” he said, adding that from the information he has received so far, it will take 15-20 days to clean up the sea in Piraeus, if there’s no more leakage.
ND Accuses Government of Doing Nothing
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Vassilis Kikilias on Wednesday accused the government of “pretending to be concerned about the environment while standing by as a spectator of the ecological crime taking place in the Saronic Gulf.”
Kikilias stressed that the extent of the pollution is already huge, adding that the inhabitants of Salamina have made complaints about unjustifiable delays on the part of clean-up crews.
Concluding, ND’s spokesman called on Parliament’s Environmental Committee to convene in order to be briefed and take additional measures for the protection of the area.
Emergency Meeting over Salamina Oil Spill
An emergency meeting was held at the shipping ministry on Wednesday to review the actions taken to clean up an oil spill caused by the sinking of the small tanker “Agia Zoni II” on Sunday, while it was anchored off Salamina. The briefing focused on actions taken to contain sections of the spill in Selinia and Kynosoura on Salamina, as well as the Piraeus suburbs of Freattyda and Piraiki.
The meeting was attended by the ministry general secretaries, the head of the coast guard and senior coast guard officers, while local authorities were represented by Piraeus Deputy Governor Giorgos Gavrilis, who had requested the meeting, Deputy Governor for the Islands Panagiotis Hatziperos, the mayors of Perama and Salamina Giannis Lagoudakis and Isidora Nannou-Papathanasiou, respectively, the deputy mayor of Piraeus Alexandros Argoudelis, Piraeus MPs and representatives of the private companies in charge of the clean-up effort.
Intensive efforts to contain and clean up the spill are continuing on Wednesday, with a crew of 60 currently working on the Paraskeva Beach at Votsalakia and in the sea in front of the Hellenic Naval Academy. The crews will later be reinforced by the anti-pollution tanker “Aktea osrv” that has much greater capabilities to clean up petroleum spills.
According to the companies, the clean up is proceeding at a satisfactory rate and work to empty the tanks of the sunken vessel, which still contain 2,570 tonnes of fuel, will begin within the day. The coast guard has reinforced its presence on the scene, while additional tanker trucks have been sent to Salamina to assist the clean up.
In a press release issued on Wednesday afternoon, the shipping firm owning the “Agia Zoni II” expressed its support for local residents, businesses and authorities and said it had ordered the company in charge of the clean up to do everything possible to fully remove all pollution.
“We have assurances that this will be done,” the announcement said, while noting that the ship has now stopped leaking fuel into the environment. Efforts to fully remove any fuel remaining in its tanks to avoid future pollution are continuing, the company added.
“We shall remain in constant contact with all competent services in order for the environment to be fully restored,” the company said, while refuting claims that the tanker had not been fully seaworthy when it sank, noting that all certificates were up to date and all inspections required under law had been done. An investigation by divers and the appropriate authorities into what caused the ship to sink was now underway, the company added.