Tons of oil off Syria costs risk to flood Cyprus
Turkey, the only one to recognize Northern Cyprus, has already sent ships and rescue teams. Still, many say: “Cooperation with the unseen authorities in the south of the island is essential.” Satellite images suggest that the oil spill now extends over an area of about 800 square kilometers and authorities fear it could hit the coasts as early as today.
Meanwhile, the threat seems already concrete in Syria. Local witnesses and photos circulating on social media seem to confirm significant pollution in the area surrounding Baniyas, a Syrian coastal city not far from Latakia.
A black tide has invaded the waters of the Mediterranean. A petroleum spill from a Syrian implant has already covered 800 square kilometers. It is expanding visibly, threatening to lap the coasts of Cyprus and Turkey, with devastating consequences for ecosystems and marine biodiversity, as well as severe risks for communities and businesses that thrive on tourism and marine resources. The spill occurred on 23 August due to an accidental leak from a tank that contained 15,000 tons of fuel at the Baniyas power plant, off the coast of Syria.
According to the state news agency Sana, and given the satellite images, the crude oil has already reached the coastal city of Jableh, about 20 km north of the plant, and is moving towards Cyprus. The day after the spill, the technicians of the Baniyas plant were able to stop the fall and secure the tank. The Syrian Ministry of the Environment and the authorities have also urgently launched cleaning procedures to avoid environmental disasters. Still, the loss continues to expand, threatening ecosystems and communities living along the coasts.
Models suggest that the spill will soon reach the Karpas Peninsula in Northern Cyprus, the Turkish-controlled area of the island. The scrub is already near Cape Apostolos Andreas, the most north-eastern point of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, only 130 kilometers from Baniyas. The city where the accident took place is located in a part of war-torn Syria under the control of Damascus.
North Cypriot Prime Minister Ersan Saner said he is taking all necessary measures to prevent the oil spill from causing damage and that he is receiving assistance from Turkey. “We are mobilizing all the means at our disposal – said the vice president of Turkey Fuat Oktay to the Anadolu news agency – without giving any possibility to the spill to turn into an environmental disaster.”