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All eyes on oil spill response in Cyprus

Traces of last week’s oil spill from Syria that came close to the north-eastern tip of Cyprus have been spotted further south off the coast of Cape Greco, with officials on both sides of the divided island scrambling to manage the disaster.

According to Greek Cypriot media, traces of oil were spotted Wednesday by a fishing boat in the southern part of Cyprus some 30 nautical miles northeast of Cape Greco. Other reports pointed to the vessel’s distance from shore as being 55 miles.

An oil slick made headline news this week several days after it was reported that it was visible close to the north-eastern tip of the divided island. The spill originated from a fuel leak in Syria, spreading over the course of few days across the Mediterranean Sea.

Turkish Cypriot media said officials in the north determined on Wednesday there was no pollution in DipKarpaz, also known as Apostolos Andreas Cape, along the coast in the north east.

A Greek Cypriot police helicopter was dispatched to survey a new area in question further south, after small fragments of the oil spill appeared to have been detached from the layer in the north according to Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis.

“It’s at a very long distance from Cyprus’ coast, we have the mechanisms in place to manage this,” Kadis said.

Similar comments were made by Turkish officials a day earlier, after Ankara sent response teams to the area.

“We are taking the necessary measures by mobilizing our resources to stop any chances of the spill turning into an environmental disaster,” Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said according to Anadolu news agency.

It was not clear whether detached pieces could help experts ascertain a new movement path of the spill.

Syrian officials said last week that a tank filled with over 15,000 tons of fuel had been leaking since August 23 at a thermal power plant on the coastal city of Baniyas.

Officials said the slick off Cyprus appeared to be oil sheen rather than the more damaging crude oil.

Earlier this year, an oil spill off the coast of Israel devastated the country’s beaches and left tar deposits across the Lebanese coast.


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