Greek oil spill spreads to Athens Riviera

Locals look at a beach covered with oil that leaked from a small oil tanker that sank on September 10 off the shores of Salamina island. Photo: Reuters
Locals look at a beach covered with oil that leaked from a small oil tanker that sank on September 10 off the shores of Salamina island. Photo: Reuters

Crews scrambled on Wednesday (local time) to clean up an oil spill from a sunken tanker which had spread to some of Athens's most popular beaches.

The 45-year-old vessel, Agia Zoni II, was carrying 2500 tonnes of fuel when it sank off the island of Salamis on Sunday. By Wednesday, a thick oily tide had covered stretches of the Athens Riviera several miles away.

"This is a catastrophe," said Fotis Yiamanis, a resident of the seafront neighborhood of Faliro, where Greeks enjoy morning swims several months of the year.

"Even if the oil leaves the surface of the water, the rest is going to sink and set in the sand. We'll step in and (our feet) will turn black."

The coast guard said authorities had sealed the shipwreck on Tuesday and there was no further spillage. Privately-owned tank trucks were working to clean up the pollution assisted by floating cranes and offshore anti-pollution vessels, it said.

At a small beach near Greece's biggest port, Piraeus, workers shoveled thick layers of black oil that washed ashore.

"You can't go near now. It stinks of oil," said Yannis Trikaminas, a local resident. "Who's going to go in there to swim?" 

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