Lebanon News

Cause of fuel spill unknown as EDL denies responsibility

Fuel pollution at the shore in Jadra, May 2, 2019. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BEIRUT/SIDON: Electricite du Liban and a Turkish power barge operator denied responsibility Thursday for a fuel spill that contaminated areas near the Jiyyeh power plant in Chouf, but did not provide any indication on what the source of the spill might be.

Parts of Chouf’s Jadra beach were saturated with fuel beginning Wednesday. The situation worsened Thursday, prompting resort owners in the area to call on officials to work to prevent it from spreading farther across the sand.

The black fuel contaminated a stretch of shore about half a kilometer south of the power plant. Local media reported that the pollution reached a depth of about 300 meters.

Jadra Mayor Joseph Qazzi told The Daily Star that the black fuel stains had appeared Wednesday and then extended to the Jadra beach.

In a statement, EDL said inspection teams had found no leakage of fuel on the shore immediately surrounding the plant or any of its installations. At the same time, the contractor in charge of operating the coastal fuel line through which fuel is offloaded from barges to the power plant said there had been no leak during a recent transfer of fuel, the statement said. “Thus Jiyyeh thermal plant is not the source of the leak,” it concluded.

Karpowership, the company that operates two power barges in Lebanon, also denied that its barges, which are docked in Jiyyeh and Zouk Mikael, had anything to do with the spill. Karpowership cited its use of “the most sophisticated purification and filtration systems.”

A source at the Energy Ministry said it was looking into the issue in coordination with the Environment Ministry. Local TV channel LBCI reported that an Environment Ministry committee tasked with following up on oil spills had found that the pollution was limited and geographically contained, and was working to remove the pollution.

Mohammad al-Sarji, head of the Lebanese Union of Professional Divers and director of the Sidon Diving Academy, told The Daily Star that this was not the first time such a spill had occurred.

“There were divers in the water - they got out and were covered in fuel. This is very dangerous to the marine environment, and it will get inside our bodies with the fish we eat,” he said.

 
This article was amended on Sunday, May 12 2019

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the fuel spill contaminated a stretch of shore about 3 kilometers south of the power plant, when in fact it was only half a kilometer. The Daily Star regrets this error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 03, 2019, on page 2.

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