Gulf oil spill sparks high alert in Bahrain
Manama, August 5, 2013
Bahrain is on high alert following a massive oil spill in the Arabian Gulf, which was deliberately caused by an Indian ship, a report said.
Desh Shanti was caught dumping oil near Iranian waters on Tuesday after ignoring official communications from concerned authorities, said the report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The spill caused an oil slick of around 10 miles, according to the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (Memac).
Bahrain is monitoring the situation after it received a satellite view of the oil slick and could increase safety measures depending on an investigation, said Supreme Council for Environment pollution control from the source unit head Hanan Haidar.
It has requested all concerned bodies to be on alert, including the coastguard, ports, and energy and desalination stations.
"The procedure in such situations is to firstly alert all concerned bodies on the oil slick," she told the GDN yesterday.
"We then note how far the slick is from Bahraini territorial waters and whether it could affect energy and desalination stations to alert them to stop access to the sea until it's all clear. We also contacted the coastguard to find out if the ship is Bahrain bound, and if legal procedures are implemented.
"In this case, the slick is far away near Iranian shores and it will not be arriving to any Bahraini port according to the information we received. However, all authorities are on alert in case the slick travels near our waters,” she added.
Meanwhile, authorities are looking to punish the owners of the ship for disregarding international environmental laws and regulations.
Iran could fine the ship up to $1 million, but Memac is pushing other countries, including Bahrain, to take legal action as well.
"The law currently has to punish the violating ship as per the country it dumped the oil in, which in this case is most likely Iran," Memac director-general Captain Abdulmunem Janahi told the GDN.
"In Iran, the fine could reach around $1m, but we are seeking to have other fines from countries that are potentially affected to be implemented as well like Saudi, Bahrain and Kuwait."
However, the proposal needs approval from Memac member countries, which are all six GCC states, Iran and Iraq.
Janahi said the ship's name has been added to the black list of the International Marine Organisation (IMO).
He added they contacted the Indian government and owner of the ship to inform them of the violations.
Janahi said monitoring maritime activities has decreased the amount of pollution in the Arabian Gulf from 155,000 tonnes per year in 1999 to around 20,000 tonnes annually.
"Such efforts led to the decrease in the amount of pollution affecting gulf waters," he said. "We need to safeguard our resources which are threatened by such incidents." – TradeArabia News Service
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