Oil slick damages
Photo: Reuters

Lebanon to sue Israel over oil spill

IAF air strike caused more than 4.6 million gallons of oil to leak into Mediterranean Sea. Spill has been described as Lebanon's worst-ever environmental disaster; experts say it could take up to a year to clean up

Lebanon is preparing to sue Israel for damages over a large coastal oil spill caused by Israeli bombing of a power station during the recent conflict, Lebanese Environment Minister Yacoub Sarraf said Wednesday.


The spill has been described as Lebanon's worst-ever environmental disaster, and experts say it could take up to a year to clean it up.


"This is our right, and we believe they (the Israelis) have transgressed international law,” Sarraf said. Israeli warplanes bombed the Jiyyeh power station on the Mediterranean coast some 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Beirut in mid-July.


The bombing spilled some 110,000 barrels (more than 4.6 million gallons) of oil into the sea, threatening marine life and the local fishing and tourism industries.


Slick harms fishing, tourism industries

The slick spread across 150 kilometers (about 95 miles) of Lebanon's coast and reached Syria's shoreline to the north.


Sarraf estimated the clean up cost at USD 100 million, but he said the total loss from the bombing "far exceeds that figure.”


"We are waiting for feedback from the fishing and tourism industries to make a more thorough assessment," he said.


The minister said Lebanon would pursue legal action against Israel on two levels - at the International Court of Justice at The Hague and at the United Nations


He explained that the legal action was being prepared by the Lebanese Justice Ministry and that it would be a “component” of an overall assessment by the Cabinet of compensation Lebanon would seek for the damage that stemmed from the 34-day war.


Lebanon suffered damage to roads and other civilian infrastructure during the Israeli offensive against Hizbullah, which ended in a cease-fire on August 14.


Efforts to clean up the spill were blocked by the Israeli naval blockade, which was only lifted late last week. Much of the coastline now fouled by oil was filled with tourists before the fighting broke out on July 12.


פרסום ראשון: 09.13.06, 20:36
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