Thursday, July 27, 2006

Black Sands

(Ramlet al Baida, Beirut)

(Sporting Club, Beirut)

(Northern Coast)

(Damour, south Lebanon)
(All pictures courtesy of the Ministry of Environment)

Statement by the Ministry of Environment
10,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil has spilled into the Mediterranean Sea along the coast of Lebanon with an additional 15,000 tonnes expected to follow.

On 13 and 15 July 2006 Jieh power utility located 30 Km South of Beirut directly on the coastline was hit by Israeli bombs. Part of the storage tanks caught fire and are still burning 10 days on. The fuel that did not catch on fire was spilled into the Mediterranean Sea as a result of the blast.

Due to winds blowing South West to North East and water current movement the oil spill was partly carried out to sea and partly dispersed along the coast of Lebanon. So far it has affected 70 – 80 km of both public and private rocky and sandy beaches along the Lebanese coast including public and private marinas/ports for boats/ships of fishermen and tourist resorts from the Damour region south of Beirut through to Tripoli in the North.

The Ministry of Environment asks the Lebanese community to assist it in its work and has prepared a Ministerial brief along these lines.

Some Impacts on the Environmental
· The marine ecosystem (fish species) is active in the summer and has been adversely affected, but the degree of damage cannot be estimated at this point in time. Thankfully, the bird migratory season had recently ended and therefore the numbers of birds affected is expected to be low.
· A small percentage of the heavy fuel oil might have evaporated due to exposure to the elements and does not have a lasting effect.
· A small percentage of the oil might be naturally decomposing because of the natural biodegradation process.
· A large percentage of the spill has emulsified and solidified along the Lebanese shore, clinging to sand, rock and stone as the pictures will show.
· Some of the biological impacts after an oil spill can include:
o Physical and chemical alteration of natural habitats such as when oil is incorporated into sediments
o Physical smothering effect on the marine life
o Lethal or sub-lethal toxic effects on the marine life
o Changes in the marine ecosystem resulting from oil effects on key organisms e.g. increased abundance of intertidal algae following the death of limpets which normally eat the algae.

Impacts on Human Health
Some possible short term adverse effects might include nausea, headaches and skin (dermatological) problems in residents living close to the effected areas or in beach goers getting in touch with the oil.

Plant crops and animal products from coastal farms close to the oil spill sites might have to be tested for hydrocarbon content to be declared safe for consumption.

The Ministry does not advise fishing off the quays and wharfs found along the coast from Jieh to Heri-Chekka until the complete scope of pollution is assessed.

Impacts on Tourism
The tourism industry has badly suffered. The acute impact of the war on this industry has been immediately felt by the nation. The chronic impact of the oil spill is disastrous on the tourism industry due to the length of time it is going to take for the clean up of the sand, the rocks, the shallow reef and the marine ecosystem as a whole.

Many public and private beaches have been heavily affected including boats/ships of fishermen and yachts and boats of tourists from all over the Arab world and the Mediterranean countries as well as boats of Lebanese nationals.

Beach-based tourism was a major economic activity in Lebanon and constituted a major part of the Lebanon’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Impacts on Biodiversity & the Fishing Industry
It is not possible at this moment to evaluate the impact on biodiversity because of the need of more detailed technical assessments carried out under safe national conditions.

The siege on Lebanon by the Israeli army has prevented the Lebanese fishermen from going about their daily work. This oil spill has added to their crisis by destroying the immediate marine habitat of the fish species off the coast. However, it is well documented in the literature that the concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons will be elevated above background concentrations over a substantial area. Biodiversity will surely suffer as in Lebanon it is highly concentrated on the coastline.

Other Shoreline Impacts
The Lebanese coastline is made up of mainly rocky shores. The initial estimates show that the mortality of limpets and other herbivores is high. Further detailed studies need to be carried out to assess the true scale of the damage.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sand is as black as the heart of people who are doing this to Lebanon...

1:16 PM  
Anonymous yann lallemant - europe said...

anonym - If you want to express your ignorance and your lack of judgment all the time in this blog,
spitting at the feelings of 2 people living for 2 weeks in war (and making a good job despite it), then be "man" enough to give yourself a name and stand to your stupidity.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody is right and nobody is wrong in this war, both sides are just misunderstood...

The fact is that they are destroying the life of people who living there, and in the same time destroying every single hope that we can have on this earth to be happy continuously... That's why im saying "as black as their heart", and being anonymous is my legitimate right...

3:20 PM  
Anonymous yann - europe said...

you can tell these fairy tales in south america. you will see what people think about this statement of yours...

"they are destroying the life of people who living there, and in the same time destroying every single hope that we can have on this earth to be happy continuously"

the US is not the peace keeping, freedom giving country so well pictured by hollywood.
has I tell, ask in Irak, Chile, Afganistan, Iran,... etc...

learn some history and read some books. forget fox news...

nor are we, but I guess that we, at least, now it.

US and israel are making the world more dangerous with ever "anti-terror" action. they don't try to understand something, they bomb. and that, will never bring an end. it will even strengthen the "terrorists", every time you kill some people.

but I don't expect you to understand this.

11:55 AM  
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8:46 AM  
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10:34 PM  

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