In light of the large quantities of tar balls that were washed up on the Israeli shoreline several days ago, the IMO-administered Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre (REMPEC) offers assistance within the oil spill response.
To remind, the large globs of tar that have washed up on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline are considered one of the worst environmental disasters to hit the country.
For the record, the cause of the pollution is yet to be identified. As of 23 February 2021, 1,000m3 of tar balls have already been collected.
The source is considered to be an oil spill produced during a storm on 11 February from a ship about 50km off the coast.
“On Wednesday 17 February, REMPEC received a request of assistance from the competent authorities of Israel, with regards to the beaching of a large quantities of tar balls, on the Israeli shoreline”.
REMPEC is supporting the identification of the source of the pollution by obtaining information from satellite images from Maritime Support Service (EMSA).
So far, 10 vessels have been found to have been in the vicinity of the possible original position of the spill and the investigation continues.
However, in the attempt to find the source of the spill, Israeli media reported that M/T MINERVA HELEN is related with the recent oil pollution incident.
Commenting on these reports, Minerva Marine, as managers of the vessel, noted that they are ”unfounded and inaccurate allegations”.
As the company explained, from 04 February 2021 until 11 February 2021 the vessel was drifting offshore Port Said, Egypt, awaiting voyage orders in empty condition, without any cargo on board.
What is more, the Centre has also invited neighbouring countries to report any pollution in the last three weeks. No pollution has been reported by countries who responded.
The REMPEC Mediterranean Assistance Unit (MAU) is working to assess the potential impact to neighbouring countries. This will be done using the results of forecasting model from the Mediterranean Operational Network for the Global Ocean Observing System (MONGOOS), a Member of the MAU.
Concluding, the centre is also in contact with the Lebanese Competent Authorities, following reports of pollution of the Lebanese shoreline.