ATHENS – Crude oil spilled from a small tanker on Thursday arrived at beaches in residential areas of the Greek capital Athens, after the vessel sank in the Saronic Gulf over the weekend, according to municipal authorities.
Oil spilled from the Ayia Zoni II arrived on Gyfada and Voula beaches after the tanker sank on Sunday, with images made available via epa showing workers gathering together to concentrate on the contaminated areas.
Gyfada mayor Giorgos Papanikolaou in a post on Facebook urged citizens not to bathe in the sea while clean-up operations were ongoing.
An estimated 200 tons of fuel was spilled in the accident, which has contaminated the stretch of seafront near the capital, from the Port of Piraeus to Voula.
The accident has sparked an ecological disaster in the Saronic Gulf, the consequences of which were still to be determined.
The Greek branch of Greenpeace criticized how long it has taken to clean up the areas affected and said the accident showed the environmental dangers of Greece’s plans to exploit hydrogen deposits in the Ionian Sea and Sea of Crete.
“The environmental impact of an accident on deep drilling as planned would be incalculable and the economic and social impact on a country based on tourism would be tragic,” said the NGO.
According to local media, the air at the contaminated beaches was not breathable because of the strong smell of oil, which was causing alarm among shopkeepers and restaurant owners.
The Ayia Zoni II was a single-hulled tanker made in 1972, and according to European legislation, should have been retired in 2003.
According to the testimonies of two sailors on board, the engine room had flooded when the ship was anchored off Salamis Island.