A crude oil tanker sailing under a Greek flag and currently anchored off Cartagena in Spain has been named by an Israeli news outlet as a suspect in the oil spill disaster that has seen almost all of Israel’s Mediterranean beaches closed down because of tar pollution.
The Kan public broadcaster reported Monday that the Greek-owned Minerva Helen, which started its working life in 2004, is suspected in this month’s incident and was previously involved in a major oil spill just off Copenhagen, Denmark, in January 2008.
Approached by Kan, the Greek company that owns the ship denied any involvement in the suspected spill off the coast of Israel, saying, “We are not the source of the leak,” and additionally denied responsibility for the incident off the Danish coast.
The company issued a further detailed denial on Wednesday.
Channel 12 news said that European organizations helping Israel with inquiries could pinpoint the suspect “possibly soon” and those responsible could be indicted.
On Monday evening, a cabinet meeting to discuss emergency funding for the cleanup saw political mudslinging and the refusal of the Finance Ministry to approve the Environmental Protection Ministry’s request. The meeting ended without a decision and a phone vote was expected to take place later on Tuesday.
Reports of the pollution on Israel’s coast emerged on Thursday when a dead 17-meter baby fin whale washed up on Israel’s southern coast, along with other wildlife.
The government on Sunday advised Israelis to avoid all Mediterranean beaches from north to south due to the pollution.
The coast was still largely contaminated, especially in rocky areas, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority reported Monday afternoon.
The INPA estimated that a long period will be needed to clear the tar contamination from the beaches and the rocky areas, including the abrasion platforms that serve as habitats for many marine creatures. These are areas of bedrock that extend out from the foot of coastal cliffs into shallow waters.