Greece botched oil spill re­sponse: NGOs

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

Greek of­fi­cials botched their re­sponse to a mi­nor oil spill that is now threat­en­ing beaches near Athens five days af­ter the sus­pi­cious sink­ing of a tanker, en­vi­ron­men­tal groups said Thurs­day as calls mounted for the com­pe­tent min­is­ter to re­sign.

Main op­po­si­tion New Democ­racy leader Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis said mer­chant marine min­is­ter Pana­gi­o­tis Kourou­b­lis, who was at­tend­ing a shipping con­fer­ence in London as the in­ci­dent un­folded and did not re­turn for days, had to go.

“The prime min­is­ter should ac­cept his res­ig­na­tion,” Mit­so­takis said, as Kourou­b­lis claimed that “the en­tire af­fair will be for­got­ten in a few days.”

“This [oil] leak hap­pened near the coun­try’s big­gest har­bor, just miles away from the oper­a­tion cen­ter of the min­istry tasked with ad­dress­ing such dis­as­ters,” said Dim­itris Ibrahim, cam­paign di­rec­tor at Green­peace Greece.

Adding in­sult to in­jury, the amount of oil in ques­tion was “rel­a­tively small,” Ibrahim said.

WWF Greece was like­wise in­cred­u­lous that “a coun­try with heavy tanker traf­fic has proven un­able to pro­tect its beaches from an ini­tially smallscale in­ci­dent.” “Clearly, this crash test of readi­ness was a failed one,” WWF Greece Gen­eral Man­ager Dim­itris Kar­ave­las later told Skai TV.

“And we have no idea what is hap­pen­ing on the se­abed,” he said.

The oil spill on Sun­day ini­tially com­pro­mised beaches just on the is­land of Salamis and of­fi­cials were con­fi­dent that it could be con­tained given mild wind con­di­tions.

But by Thurs­day, parts of the slick had drifted miles away to the af­flu­ent coastal Athens sub­urb of Gly­fada and were threat­en­ing the pop­u­lar beaches of Voula and Vou­liag­meni.

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