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Ten Months After Tanker Oil Leak, Athens Beaches OK for Swimming

June 25, 2018

ATHENS – With summer underway swimmers at beaches in the Capital city near where an oil tanker sank in 2017 and flooded the waters with oil were said to be fully depolluted and safe for use, although people had already begun flocking there.

No one has been held responsible for the debacle that saw the Agia Zoni II tanker sink in the Saronic Gulf after reports it hadn’t been properly checked with the oil slick raising worries about the safety of the waters and the beaches but Mayors in local neighborhoods there said it’s safe now.

“Following communication with the Greek Center for Marine Research and after tests on the water which we carried out last year and this year… there is no sign of any problem, no presence of mineral oils,” Sarinikos Mayor Giorgos Sofronis, said.

“The coastal area has been prepared to receive residents and visitors as it is every year,” he told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency.

The mayor of Vari, Voula and and Vouliagmeni, Grigoris Konstantellos, struck a similar note, telling ANA-MPA there was “not a trace of pollution” on local beaches.

In December, 2017, photos and video showed the oil tanker that sank off Piraeus had a gash in the hull, photographs and video taken as it was being lifted from the Saronic Gulf showed, with the owner claiming it was tampered with.

The Agia Zoni II sank in September while at anchor off Salamina and leaked its cargo, sending a slick onto beaches on the island and the southern coast of Athens at the end of the summer season, setting off criticism from rival political parties that the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition had done nothing to regulate the industry.

The Captain was on board at the time as well as the engineer, who said he heard a loud noise like a door slamming, just before the tanker started taking in water and listing. They were rescued by a passing ship as the tanker sank. An investigation is still ongoing.

Immediately, the the Agia Zoni’s owner, Thodoris Kountouris, said the ship was deliberately sunk without indicating who may have caused it.

A large inward-facing gash seen beneath the waterline of the tanker’s hull after it was pulled up show that may be the case, said Kathimerini, though the expert assigned by the prosecutor to investigate the case has not reach any conclusions yet.

Some analysts earlier said the gash could have been caused by the ship hitting a rock while sailing, but the likelihood that it occurred while the Agia Zoni was at anchor has brought about different scenarios as an explanation.

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