Spills of War

It’s good to see NASA hasn’t completely abandoned its mandate to look after the home planet. As its Earth Observatory notes:

Among the casualties of the conflict between Lebanon and Israel in the summer of 2006 was the Mediterranean. Israeli raids in mid-July on the Jiyyeh Power Station released thousands of tons of oil along the Lebanese coast, perhaps rivaling the Exxon Valdex accident in 1989. By August 8, the spill covered approximately 120 kilometers (75 miles). The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying onboard NASA’s Terra satellite took this picture on August 15, 2006. The United Nations, the European Union, and the International Maritime Organization planned a meeting for August 17 to discuss cleanup operations, which had been delayed by the fighting between the neighboring countries.


The spill put some 15,000 tons of oil into the Mediterranean. These images show the spill as it moves north from the Jiyyeh Power Station to the coasts of Lebanaon and Syria. The upper photo was taken August 15, a month after the power station was damaged; the lower photo,

colorized to enhance relevant contrast, shows the spill a week earlier:


The spill, rivaling the Exxon Valdez disaster in impact, stands to affect coastal wildlife as well as tourism and fishing in the short-term and may cause health problems for both fish and human coastal communities for some time to come. EU, UN, and maritime officials met today to plan and organize a cleanup, which had to wait till the fighting stopped. Computer models, says the BBC, suggest that about 20% of the oil has probably evaporated, but some 80% is now on the coastline. It’s just part of the larger environmental impact the war has had on the coast.

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