Syrian oil spills spread across the Mediterranean

Syrian officials said last week that a tank filled with 15,000 tons of fuel had been leaking since August 23 at a thermal power plant in the Syrian coastal city of Baniyas. They said they had been able to bring it under control.

Satellite image analysis of Orbital EOS now indicates that the oil spill was larger than originally assumed and covered about 800 square kilometers (309 square kilometers) – an area about the same size as New York City. The company told CNN Tuesday night that the oil field was about 7 kilometers off the Cypriot coast.

The Cypriot Department of Fisheries and Marine Research said that based on a simulation of oil spill movements and meteorological data, the lick could reach the Apostle’s Andreas Cape “in the next 24 hours.” The department published the statement around noon. 11 local time (4 am ET) Tuesday.

It also said it would be willing to help tackle the spill.

The Apostle’s Andreas Cape is located in the Turkish-controlled north of the divided island and sits just over 130 kilometers west of Syria’s Baniyas.

Photos circulating on social media for more than a week have shown the oil surface along the coastal areas of Syria’s Baniyas and Jableh, and locals have warned of a potential threat to marine life.

A Baniyas resident who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity had a large part of the coast contaminated.

“People did not need this, it is already difficult to live here and it probably affected the lives of many families and caused them to lose their income,” said the resident.

“The government only sent teams of mushrooms and water hoses; they do not have the capacity to deal with this …. you cannot clean the sea with mushrooms,” the resident added.

Turkey, which shares a border and coastline with Syria, has also been withdrawn to stem the spill.

“We are taking the necessary steps to mobilize our resources to stop any chance that the spill will turn into an environmental disaster,” Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay told state-run news agency Anadolu.

Baniya’s refinery is the main source of Syrian fuel products and is crucial to keeping the war-torn country driven.

This is the second major oil spill in the eastern Mediterranean this year. In february, an oil spill off the coast of Israel destroyed the country’s beaches and left tar deposits across the Lebanese coast.

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