Tuesday, August 08, 2006

An Environmental Catastrophe

If you can't tell, what you see in the picture is a satellite image over Lebanon. The black streaks all along the coast are more than 15,000 tonnes of crude oil spilled into the Mediterranean sea after an Israeli air strikes on a power plant south of Beirut.
The damage is unimaginable. Lebanon's once booming beaches have become a toxic wasteland. Its fishing industry has been virtually annihilated. Sea turtles who normally lay their eggs on the beaches of Lebanon throughout the month of August, along with the schools of jellyfish they feast on during that time and the countless other species of marine life native to the eastern Mediterranean, have been choked, poisoned, and drowned to death as their gills, lungs, and feathers are soaked in the noxious sludge.

Not content with having displaced three quarters of a million people, wounded thousands, and killed hundreds of our men, women, and especially children, the Israelis have now ensured that hundreds of thousands of Lebanese will suffer from the effects of this campaign for years to come. The longer the cleanup is delayed the longer residents along the coast will not be able to open their windows to their once magnificient view, as fear of strong winds carrying the toxic sleet into their eyes, mouthes, nostrils, and lungs force them to turn away from the sea that once provided them with so much. Surely the effects of having tens of thousands of tonnes of this carcinogenous gunk under our very noses will impact the health and quality of life of generations to come.
The cost of this cleanup? According Environment Minister Yacoub al-Sarraf it is estimated at $40-50 million ... that is if the Israelis were to declare a cease-fire today and if countries friendly to the beseiged nation sent in teams, equipment, and vessels to help with the cleanup.
"We have never seen a spill like this in the history of Lebanon. It is a major catastrophe," the minister told Reuters. "The equipment we have is for minor spills. We use it once in a blue moon to clean a small spill of 50 tonnes or so. To clean this whole thing up we would need an armada."
After this war, Lebanon will never be the same again.

1 comment:

  1. http://www.unep.org/lebanon/

    check out the UNEP website for more details


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