ATHENS – Fishing trawlers won’t be allowed to operate in the Saronic Gulf for another two months because an oil spill on Sept. 13 off the island of Salamina when a tanker sank, fouling a stretch from the port of Piraeus to Athens beaches.
The ban was extended by Agricultural Development Minister Vangelis Apostolou as a precaution until studies of the water quality in the area are completed by the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (ELKETHE).
Despite assertions by the European Union Greece delayed three days in asking for help with an oil spill from a sunken tanker – and that aid was sent as soon as it was asked – Greek Shipping Minister Pangiotis Kouroumblis said that wasn’t the case, defending his late response to the disaster.
He was away in London when the Agia Zoni II sank and after returning offered to resign over the debacle but then changed his mind and said he hadn’t done anything wrong.
The problem grew worse when one of the ships hired to help clean up the mess was found with oil in its hold that couldn’t be accounted for but prosecution of the owners has been held up in the courts as other ships try to remove the spill, the effects of which could linger for years according to some maritime analysts.
It was reported the sunk ship that spilled oil was not seaworthy, the government said vessels more than 30 years old would be certified as not being seaworthy – on Jan. 1, 2022.