International News

Oil spill forces Greek authorities to close Athens beaches

Workers clean a beach of an oil spillage at Faliro suburb, near Athens, on Thursday,Sept. 14, 2017. Greek authorities insist they are doing everything they can to clean up pollution caused by an oil spill following the sinking of a small oil tanker that has left large sections of the Greek capital’s coastal areas coated in viscous, foul-smelling oil. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek health authorities have banned swimming along a long line of popular Athens beaches following extensive sea pollution from the sinking of a small oil tanker five days ago.

The ban covers much of a 20-kilometer (13-mile) stretch from Greece’s main port of Piraeus to Glyfada, further south, as well as part of the island of Salamina.

A Health Ministry statement Friday said the prohibition would last until the beaches have been cleaned.

Much of the area has been contaminated by small slicks of heavy fuel oil from the Agia Zoni II tanker, which sank Sunday while anchored in calm seas off Salamina. It was carrying 2,200 tons of fuel oil and 370 tons of marine gas oil.

It is unclear how much fuel escaped before divers sealed the wreck.