Lebanon War an Environtmental Disaster
So says Fouad Hamdan writes in the Daily Star:
‘ An environmental catastrophe unfolded on July 12 when war broke out between Israel and Hizbullah. Around 1,000 people were killed in the course of the fighting and thousands more injured on both sides of the border. But in addition to the human tragedy, the environment took a number of deadly blows. The coastlines of Lebanon and Syria were polluted by oil spills, Turkey and Cyprus may be hit by the slicks in the coming weeks, and forest fires raged in Lebanon and Israel.
In Lebanon, Israeli warplanes bombed the oil-fueled power plant of Jiyyeh, located directly on the coastline, about 30 kilometers south of Beirut. Storage tanks caught fire and burned for a long time. At least 15,000 tons of heavy fuel oil were spilled into the Mediterranean. Due to the south-north currents and winds, the whole Lebanese coastline north of Jiyyeh has been polluted. Beautiful beaches all along the coast are now black and foul-smelling. Fishing boats in the scenic Phoenician port of Byblos are immobilized as the filthy oil congeals around them.
The Syrian coastline around the port city of Tartous has also been hit. Huge oil carpets are moving slowly toward Turkey. They may also hit Cyprus if winds and currents are unfavorable. The ecological and economic consequences for the region’s tourist industry could be disastrous.
The fuel oil along the coast is currently taking the form of a thick and soft mass similar to fluid asphalt. It is highly toxic and has the potential to kill all marine life. Hydrocarbons concentrate in all organisms exposed to it. They are carcinogenic and damage hormone systems in all living beings. On beaches in Jiyyeh, Beirut and near Tripoli, already endangered green turtles have buried their eggs. Baby turtles start to hatch now, but they have little hope of completing their first fateful journey across the beach to the water. Coastal fisheries will be affected for years to come and the livelihood of fishermen destroyed. Lebanon’s tourism industry, which had seen a revival in recent years, has been struck at its heart. ‘
Then there is this: “Scientists suspect Israeli arms used in South contain radioactive matter” . . .