ATHENS – A tanker which sank in September near Piraeus, spilling oil into the harbor and beaches along the coast, still hasn’t been raised even though the cleanup work is mostly done, prompting the Environment Ministry to say it should be lifted.
The ministry said the Agia Zoni II tanker needs to be removed from the sea but didn’t say who would do it, to control the environmental impact from the spill.
The tanker was shipwrecked off the island of Salamina, causing a slick that reached the southern coast of Athens and fouled beaches just as the summer was ending.
The ministry said that all sea areas impacted by the spill will be monitored for at least another year, and that a detailed plan to deal with its repercussions will be approved by the end of the month.
The final text will be decided after an Oct. 24 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Environmental Impact Assessment (EAPEZ) which is concentrating on areas polluted by the oil, especially those or designed to be included in the Natura 2000 network of European protected areas, media reports said, including prevention and treatment of secondary pollution from submerged oil residues.
The Agia Zoni II went down in mild weather while at anchor with a cargo of 2,500 tons of fuel that leaked and spread to the coasts of Salamina and southern Athens, covering dozens of kilometers of coastline in foul-smelling gunk.
According to the Equasis database, the reputable Norwegian register DNV-GL had identified 10 serious infringements by the Agia Zoni in 2008, leading the ship’s owner to put it under the Greek legal framework which is far more lenient and put it under the jurisdiction of Shipping Ministry inspectors.
A certification of seaworthiness granted by Greek inspectors expired in July of this year and its owner received a two-month extension even though the analysts said there weren’t enough inspectors to conduct checks and as the maritime workers’ union PEMEN said the ship was “extremely dangerous to safe navigation.”
“The engine room where it started taking on water had been roughly patched up in order to close gaping holes,” PEMEN claimed.