Suez oil slick threatens Mediterranean

An oil slick in the Suez Canal caused by a collision involving a Kuwaiti tanker a week ago is threatening to reach the Mediterranean, port sources said on Wednesday.

“The slick has reached Port Said” on the Mediterranean at the northern terminus of the canal, a source there said as canal authority chief General Ahmed Fadel was visiting the site.

“It is visible on the waterway and is moving towards the Mediterranean.”

The spill was caused by a leak in the Al-Samidun tanker, carrying 160 000 tonnes of crude, after it collided with a dredger further south on December 14.

The slick has tripled in size over a week and now measures about 55km in length, the source said, adding that about 10 000 cubic metres had been lost from the tanker.

A preliminary report on the spill, of which AFP obtained a copy, says efforts to contain the slick have so far failed and blames the authorities for “rejecting from the start any cooperation with foreign experts”.

The report also questions the decision to maintain the major shipping trade route open after the incident and to use of large amounts of chemicals to dissolve the oil in the waterway.

The document, which claims that several aquatic species are threatened by the contamination, also charges that the Egyptian authorities has no adequate strategy to face such environmental threats and lacks means to combat them.—Sapa-AFP

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