From: Reuters
Published August 4, 2006 12:00 AM

Lebanon Oil Spill Spreads to Syrian Coast

NAIROBI — Oil leaking from a bombed power station in Lebanon has reached the coastline of neighbouring Syria and is spreading north, the Kenya-based United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said.

Israeli jets hit storage tanks at the Jiyyeh plant south of the Lebanese capital Beirut at the beginning of the war, spilling an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 tonnes of oil into the Mediterranean.

"Satellite imagery ... now shows that the oil slick has entered Syrian waters and has already contaminated approximately 10 km of coastline north of the borders between Syria and Lebanon," UNEP said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

The spill has already polluted over 80 km (50 miles) of Lebanon's coastline, the statement said.

Lebanon's Environment Ministry has called it the worst environmental disaster to hit the Arab state.

Local ecologists say the oil is especially threatening since fish spawn and sea turtles, including the endangered green turtle, nest on Lebanon's coast.

The conflict between Israel and Lebanon-based Hizbollah flared after militants kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in a July 12 raid.

"An environmental catastrophe is threatening the Mediterranean region ... hostilities must cease to guarantee immediate access to the affected area," said Paul Misfud, coordinator for UNEP-Mediterranean Action Plan.

Source: Reuters

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