A gargantuan oil spill that hit the coasts of Israel last weekend was suspected to have been sourced from a Greek tanker named Minerva Helen. However, Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry on Sunday confirmed that Minerva Helen was not the source of the tons of toxic tar that washed up on Israel’s shores.
The team studying the origins of the colossal ecological disaster, led by the Environmental Protection Ministry and including representatives from the Israeli Shipping and Ports Authority reached the conclusion that the Greek ship wasn’t to blame for the spill, after conducting a “thorough, professional and comprehensive inspection” of the tanker at the Port of Piraeus, with the full cooperation of Greek authorities. The inspection followed a report last Monday by Israel’s Kan News that the Minerva Helen was a key suspect, though the vessel’s owner denied any connection with the incident.
A ministry statement said, “Following a thorough, professional and comprehensive inspection carried out by the Environmental Protection Ministry’s inspector and an inspector from [Israel’s] Shipping and Ports Administration, the ship was finally eliminated as the source of the pollution.” The probe was carried out with the full cooperation of the Greek authorities and with the involvement of the Greek coast guard, the ministry added, stressing that no contact was made with the ship or its owners at any stage.
“We are committed to making every effort to locate the ship responsible for polluting Israel’s shores,” said Israeli Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel of the spill, which Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority has called one of the worst environmental disasters in Israel’s history. “We have a moral obligation to the public, animals, and nature that were harmed,” she said. “We will not let this environmental crime slide, and will adopt all measures to locate the offender,” she added.
With a massive clean-up still underway, Israel’s Health Ministry, last Wednesday also announced a temporary ban on the sale of fish from the Mediterranean until the Agriculture Ministry completes testing samples to rule out the presence of contaminants. Some experts have called the spill the worst environmental disaster to hit the country’s beaches in decades.