Syrian oil spill may be larger than thought, heading towards Cyprus

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A large oil spill off the coast of northern Syria may be larger than initially thought and maybe threatening the eastern coast of Cyprus, according to a new satellite imagery analysis.

Authorities have for the past few days been monitoring an oil slick apparently making its way toward the island’s east coast, and stand ready to take action if necessary, Agriculture and Environment Minister Costas Kadis said in a social media post-Monday.

He was referring to an oil spill spotted by satellites drifting from the coast of Syria toward the island.

A company that tracks oil spills told the Cyprus Mail on Monday that the oil slick’s size suggests it could easily cover the shores of Apostolos Andreas, Famagusta district and Protaras.

In a statement later in the day, the fisheries department – which is responsible for oil spill control and response on a national level – said it got briefed on the oil leak in Syria last Thursday.

It added that under the national emergency plan concerning marine contamination from oil products, a response team has been activated at the Zenon coordination centre in Larnaca.

“Going by the latest simulation model tracking the spread of the oil spill, as well as current meteorological data, it is estimated that the spill will affect Cape Apostolos Andreas over the next 24 hours.”

The department said also that information provided by ships suggests it is an oil sheen, rather than crude oil.

Meantime a spill-tracking company said the oil could reach the Cyprus coastline by later in the evening.

Prior to Kadis’ tweet, the account ‘, Inc’ had posted the following: “Fuel oil spillage from the power plant at Baniyas, Syria is about to completely wreck the entire eastern coastline of Cyprus.”

Media reported the slick started as a consequence of a leakage in a power plant inside a refinery in the Syrian town of Baniyas, on the Mediterranean coast.