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Experts Warn Against Swimming, Fishing Along Athens Riviera Due to Oil Spill

Salamina, Photo Source: WWF Hellas / Giorgos Lialios

Salamina, Photo Source: WWF Hellas / Giorgos Lialios

Salamina, Faliro, Alimos, Hellenikon and Glyfada beaches are off limits, warns the Greek health ministry following the massive oil spill off the coast of Salamina caused by a sunken tanker earlier this week.

Speaking on SKAI radio, Health Minister and medical doctor Andreas Xanthos said pollution from the oil spill may potentially seep into the food chain, which will emerge at a later time, underlining the need to assess the extent of the damage to the environment.

“Complete restoration of the ecosystem following oil pollution requires many years,” added George Paximadis, director of marine research at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).”The toxic effects on humans and the ecosystem are both immediate and long term.”

In the meantime, WWF said it would file a lawsuit against all responsible parties for the pollution of the Saronic Gulf.

“We must ensure that those responsible will be held accountable in an exemplary manner and that through thorough analysis of the causes into the accident we will be better prepared to prevent or manage such incidents in the future,” said WWF Director Dimitris Karavellas, adding that there were “a lot of open questions” as to how the accident occurred.

Photo Source: @ Isidora Papathanasiou Nannou

Salamina, Photo Source: @ Isidora Papathanasiou Nannou

Speaking to the Guardian, Karavellas said that it was clearly no minor incident. “It is an environmental crime, the worst spillage in years and authorities are clearly totally unprepared. It is very important that a precedent is set, that those responsible are held accountable, that they are made to pay for the damage and it is properly assessed.”

According to Greenpeace, the issue now is to ensure transparency, monitoring, flow of information and regular follow-up investigations after the affected ecosystem is restored.

Meanwhile, Shipping Minister Panagiotis Kouroublis said he was confident the damage would be successfully dealt with in 25 to 30 days.

The spill resulted after the anchored Greek-flagged Agia Zoni II carrying some 2,200 tons of crude oil sank under unknown circumstances on Sunday.

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