The release of heavy fuel oil into the eastern Mediterranean has been described as Lebanon’s worst –ever environmental disaster. The slick covers 170km (105 miles) of Lebanon’s coastline and is spreading out to the sea. The environmental impact of the oil spill on marine biodiversity is expected to be devastating. Oil spills affect marine life by either physical contamination or smothering, or by the bioaccumulation of the toxic components of oil in animal and plant tissues.
The oil covering its rocky coasts has killed algae and other organisms that fish and turtles feed on. The reserve counts 156 species of birds, including many migratory birds that depend on the now contaminated water. Oil spills prevent adult sea turtles to breath and can trap baby sea turtles from hatching. The longer the oil stays in the water, the more its toxic constituents will build up in fish tissues. Marine plants will also be heavily impacted because the oil spill will block sun rays and oxygen absorption which are essentially needed for the plants survival. Migratory birds are also at risk. Many birds pass through the contaminated site which is one of the Lebanon’s most important staging areas for migrant birds.
Oil spill in Lebanon has gradually destroying the ecosystem of marine food chain with the bioaccumulation of the toxins in the food chain. Oil also has a direct affect on people through direct contact or inhalation of oil fumes which may cause cancer, pulmonary disease etc though the carcinogen components of the oil.