Last Update: 21:13
This photo by Reuters’ Giorgos Moutafis, demonstrates the environmental disaster at the coast of southern Athens after the sinking of a small tanker in the Saronic Gulf on September 10.
The oil that leaked from the tanker can be seen next to sunbeds and folded umbrellas, on the beach of Agios Kosmas in the Athenian Riviera.
Greek authorities are urging the public to avoid swimming at a number of beaches.
Lawsuit from WWF
Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has filed a lawsuit in Greece over extensive pollution along Athens’ coastline following the sinking of a tanker near Piraeus; the country’s largest port.
The environmental group’s Greek branch filed the lawsuit on Monday against “anyone found responsible,” a common legal practice in Greece when the culprit of a crime hasn’t been formally established.
WWF said it considered the case to be “an environmental crime deserving exemplary punishment.”
The government however, remains optimistic that the greater part of Saronic Gulf’s coast will have been cleaned in the next 20-30 days.
Deputy Shipping Minister Nikos Santorinios said that the government is seeking the best solutions for tackling the pollution problem.
Speaking to SKAI TV, he also stressed that, if any mistakes were made, then Shipping Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis and himself, are jointly responsible.
Santorinios denied that the government’s response had been slow, and noted that a floating barrier to contain the spill was placed around the tanker just a few hours after it sank.
Until that moment, he added, approximately 300 tons of oil had already escaped.
Finally, he said that the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research is evaluating the environmental damage, and the public will be informed when the problem has been addressed and the beaches are once again safe to swim in.