The Syrian Oil Spill Has Expanded Across the Mediterranean, Putting Cyprus On High Alert

The Syrian Oil Spill Has Expanded Across the Mediterranean, Putting Cyprus On High Alert

Cyprus officials are keeping an eye on an oil slick that originated at a power facility on Syria’s Mediterranean coast and could soon impact the island.

Last week, Syrian official media reported a spill from the plant, which is positioned inside the Baniyas oil refinery. The slick surged north along the Syrian coast before migrating westwards towards Cyprus, according to satellite data.

According to expectations, it will hit the Turkish-controlled Karpas Peninsula on Tuesday.

The Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus prime minister said his country was taking all required precautions to avoid the slick from inflicting harm, and that Turkey was assisting him.

Last Tuesday, Syria’s government announced that an unexpected fuel tank leak had occurred at the Baniyas thermal power station, which is located in a part of the war-torn country under its control.

The slick had reached the village of Jableh, approximately 20 kilometres (12 miles) to the north, according to reports the next day.

Teams have started cleaning up oil from rocky portions of the coast, using sand to soak up the fuel as well as suction devices, according to the report.

Meanwhile, visuals from Europe’s Sentinel-1 satellite indicated that the slick had spread further along the coast, almost reaching Latakia, and had water surface had engulfed approximately 150 square kilometres (58 sq mi). As the clean-up continued over the weekend, Syrian officials minimised the scale of the spill, with the head of the General Directorate of Syrian Ports telling state television that the amount of fuel that leaked “was not massive.”

On Monday, the Cypriot authorities issued a warning about the slick, citing new satellite images that showed it had grown in size and was approaching Cape Apostolos Andreas.

The cape is located on the Karpas Peninsula, in the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), about 130 kilometres (80 miles) north of Baniyas.

The slick seemed to be “oil sheen” rather than crude oil, according to the Cypriot fisheries and marine research department, and computer modelling and climatic data anticipated it might affect the cape within a day.

The government has taken steps to notify authorities in the north, and it was “ready to respond and give help if required,” it added.

Ersan Saner, the TRNC’s Prime Minister, said the spill’s progress was being continuously monitored by his office and all necessary ministries and organisations in collaboration with Turkey, which is the only country that acknowledges the north as an independent state.

“No one should have any doubt that whatever is necessary will be done to ensure that this spill does not affect our country,” Mr Saner added.

Turkey’s Vice President, Fuat Oktay, said that the nation was “mobilising every means available to us without allowing the spill to turn into an environmental disaster,” and that the country expected to control the slick in the open sea before it reached the coast of Cyprus.

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