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Turkey and Cyprus monitor ‘oil sheen’ after Syria leak

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Authorities in Turkey and Cyprus are on alert for any potential pollution from a ‘sheen’ of fuel floating across the Mediterranean from a spill in Syria, officials said.

Fuel which seeped into the sea from a thermal station off the coast of Syria on Aug. 23 has been snaking across the Eastern Mediterranean, but any potential impact on Cyprus will depend on currents.

The latest satellite images of the region provided by the European Maritime Safety Agency showed the oil sheen east of Cyprus breaking down and dissolving, the Cyprus Fisheries and Marine Research Department said.

The eastern Cyprus coastline, largely unspoilt, falls within two opposing jurisdictions; an area controlled by the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government and a Turkish Cypriot breakaway state recognised only by Ankara.

Turkey has sent ships equipped with 1100 metres of sea barrier, oil skimmers, oil absorbent pads and containment tanks to northern Cyprus to deal with any contingency, Turkish Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said.

“Currently there is no pollution that spread to Turkey or northern Cypriot coasts,” Karaismailoglu said.

Authorities in the government-controlled south of the island said they had use of an anti-pollution vessel made available by the EU and were monitoring the situation closely.

Photo: A handout satellite image made available by Maxar Technologies on 01 September 2021 shows oil pooling around a set of oil storage tanks at the Baniyas power plant and spilling into the Mediterranean and the Syrian coast toward Cyprus, in Syria. EPA-EFE/MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES HANDOUT

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