Greece botched oil spill response: NGOs
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.