Hydrocarbons force closure of popular beaches along Spanish coast

A petrol tanker’s cleaning emissions have been blamed for nine days of pollution on Costa del Sol beaches resulting in the peak-season closure of resorts and a constant coastal cleaning operation.

The Spanish environmental ministry has blamed the constant appearance of black balls of hydrocarbon mixed with cleaning products since 8 August on a petrol tanker clearing out its crude tanks, Spanish media reported.

The lumps of tar have tarnished popular beaches from La Línea, near Gibraltar, 43 kilometres to the north at Estepona, but no culprit has been identified, although the government has said that a tankers en route from Gibraltar to Suez around the 5 August was to blame. Experts said that the pollution was worsened by the ‘Levante’ wind which has blown strongly coastwards for many days.

Meanwhile, representatives of the five most affected resorts have met to press for compensation for an as yet unknown amount for environmental and commercial damage caused by the emissions. Local authorities were racing to clean-up beaches before the weekend, when many tourists from inland Spain arrive. According to governmental studies, the discharges have already harmed turtles for which local waters are a refuge.

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