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    Aqaba oil spill cleanup complete — ASEZA -

    August 30, 2022
    oil and gas

    AMMAN — Official teams have completed the cleanup of an oil spill at the berth of the Aqaba container terminal on Sunday, according to the Commissioner for Tourism and Environment in the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) Nidal Majali.

    “As of this morning, we began intensifying efforts to work on rehabilitating beaches as fast as possible,” he told The Jordan Times, noting that all traces of oil in the water have been completely removed.

    The main delay in the cleaning process was traces of oil settled under the container port, which is 1km-long and 30m-deep, Majali added.

    Cleanup teams are now following the recommendations of experts and researchers to avoid using any chemicals in cleaning oil residues covering rocks or mixed with sand on beaches, he continued.

    The Marine Science Station, which continues to monitor and examine affected areas, hasn’t recorded any damage to marine life or coral reefs in Aqaba.

    “What might have been harmed is bird eggs, crabs and seashells on contaminated beaches,” Majali said.

    He also noted that ASEZA and all official authorities in Aqaba take any form of polluting practices very seriously, “no matter how small”.

    “We will be taking strict legal measures against any entities or individuals threatening marine life in the area,” he said.

    Legal proceedings against the ship that caused the oil spill are ongoing, and all affected parties will receive monetary compensation upon determining the value of the damages, Majali continued.

    He also confirmed that no sporting or entertaining maritime activity, including diving, has been disrupted since the accident occurred.

    Aqaba has 30 diving sites, only three or four of which are near the oil spill, according to Majali.

    “Aqaba’s northern beaches were completely unaffected by the accident, and citizens were warned to remain clear of contaminated areas at all times,” he added.

    “Local centres only paused diving trips for six hours when we first learned of the oil spill two weeks ago,” said Head of the Aqaba Diving Association Khamash Yassin.

    He added that this measure was taken to avoid damage to equipment and maintain the safety of divers.

    “Currently, we are receiving bookings as usual and diving trips are ongoing in various unpolluted sites,” Yassin continued.

    Nayef Al Mahfoz, manager of a local diving centre in Aqaba, said that the number of bookings has been slightly reduced because some people preferred the diving area that is currently contaminated. However, diving trips are ongoing at several other sites, he said.

    Faisal, another manager of a diving centre in Aqaba who preferred to go by his first name only, noted that only the diving sites near contaminated areas are closed.

    “Divers who did not heed the warnings and chose to swim near the polluted area re-emerged from underwater covered in oil with damaged equipment,” he told the Jordan Times.

    The 11-tonne oil spill was caused by a technical failure on a Palauan merchant vessel docked at the berth of the Aqaba container terminal over two weeks ago, according to officials.


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