Israel clears Greek tanker of Mediterranean oil spill

Greek Tanker is main suspect in disastrous Mediterranean oil spill

The Israeli government have cleared a Greek tanker of suspicion in relation to an oil spill that caused massive tar pollution on the Mediterranean coastline.

It was seen as Israel’s worst maritime pollution incident ever.

After an Israeli media report had named the Greek oil tanker Minerva Helen as a possible culprit, the ship’s owner, Minerva Marine Inc, but its operator had denied any connection to the oil release, noting that the vessel was in ballast at the time in question.

On Sunday, the ministry said that “following an inspection conducted in Greece on the Minerva Helen tanker, it has been cleared of suspicion of involvement in the severe tar event on Israel’s beaches”. The ship’s owner said the Israeli media report was an “unfounded and inaccurate allegation”.

It stated that the ship had been in the Mediterranean in the days before the storm, “without any cargo on board” and therefore could not be linked to a spill.

On Saturday in the Greek port city of Piraeus, Israeli inspectors conducted “an extensive examination” of the Minerva Helen that “positively ruled out the vessel as the source of the pollution,” the environmental protection ministry said in a statement.

The investigation was conducted in coordination with Greek authorities, with help from the Hellenic Coast Guard.

Israel has banned the sale of all locally sourced seafood in response to the severe petroleum spill that has affected its western coastline over the past week. The prohibition covers the distribution or marketing of any Mediterranean seafood from waters off Israel.