An oil spill from a cargo ship in the Port of Thessaloniki on Thursday has alarmed authorities who are racing against time to prevent pollution from spreading further.
Although the spill is relatively small, covering an area of approximately seventy square meters, authorities activated the emergency plan by deploying floating dams and by using absorbent materials in the polluted area.
The captain and the first engineer of the cargo ship were arrested and the ship was prohibited from sailing. It was not immediately known what were the nationalities of the arrested.
Even small oil spills can have a significant impact on marine environments. Oil spills can harm marine organisms, disrupt food webs, and damage habitats.
The oil can cover the surface of the water, preventing sunlight from reaching underwater plants and phytoplankton, which are essential for the survival of marine life.
The oil can also enter the respiratory and digestive systems of marine animals, causing health problems or death.
Additionally, oil spills can contaminate beaches, causing harm to birds, fish, and other wildlife that depend on these areas for feeding and nesting. Therefore, it is important to prevent even small oil spills and clean them up promptly if they occur.
Port of Thessaloniki is one of the most important in SE Europe
The port of Thessaloniki constitutes the most important port in Macedonia and one of the most important ports in Southeast Europe.
It is located on the inner part of the Bay of Thermaicos, to the west of the center of the city of Thessaloniki. The approach of the ships is accomplished through a natural channel of substantial depth, thus not needing any further deepening.
It occupies a total space of 1.5 million square meters and it spreads across a length of 3.5km.
The installations include 6 piers spreading on a 6200 meter-long quay and a sea depth down to 12 meters, with open and indoor storage areas spreading on a total of 600,000 square meters, suitable for servicing all types of cargo as well as passenger traffic.
The port also has installations suitable for liquid fuel storage, and it is located in proximity to the international natural-gas pipeline.
2017 oil spill causes environmental damage near Athens
In September 2017, a huge oil spill off Athens in the Saronic Gulf caused extensive pollution on the Athens Riviera.
The vessel, Agia Zoni II, was carrying 2,500 tonnes of fuel when it sank off the island of Salamis. Parts of the slick had drifted miles away to the resort of Glyfada. The much-loved beaches of Voula and Vouliagmeni were threatened by the thick black tide.
Environmental groups had complained that officials bungled their response to the spill, saying it was allowed to spread out of control.