In white overalls, firefighters picked up, Monday, June 14, small oil cakes on a beach in eastern Corsica, three days after the discovery of a probable degassing off a ship still sought after by the investigators.
Since the spotting of this pollution on Friday during a military air exercise off Corsica, air, sea and land resources have been engaged to try to clean up the oil residues, while the tourist season begins on the island. of beauty. On Monday, helicopters continued to track oily slicks at sea.
The oil pellets washed up on Solaro beach, on the edge of Solenzara, a seaside resort on the eastern coast, were reported to the authorities on Sunday evening. “It looks like little black stones, nothing very important and imposing. On the other hand, there were a lot of them on the beach ”, reported Monday Ange-Toussaint Gambini, head of the civil security section of Corte.
The polluted areas were crisscrossed and prohibited from access by the gendarmes, in particular the entrance to a campsite overlooking the beach. Around 12 noon, all the residues had been removed, announced the prefecture of Haute-Corse on Twitter.
[Pollution Maritime] The residue discovered last night on Solaro beach has been removed. The recognitions … https://t.co/Aw3dniRysh
Present on the scene, the prefect François Ravier announced a “Surveillance of all the beaches, beyond that of Solaro, over a line of 30 km”, recalling that access to beaches and swimming were prohibited in the municipalities of southern Haute-Corse.
Several tonnes of residue recovered
At sea, surveillance remains active, using two helicopters from civil security and the gendarmerie, a plane from the national navy and five boats which will be joined by a tug from Ajaccio during the day. Several tons of oil have already been recovered over the weekend, but the “Pollution is more and more fragmented and dispersed”, reported Commander Christine Ribbe, spokesperson for the Mediterranean Maritime Prefecture. “This morning, we saw oily stains and microballets which require investigation”, said at midday, the maritime prefecture.
The slicks spotted at the start of the pollution episode are still drifting south, added the same source, “And we have the impression that we will have to get closer to the coast”. “We recover everything we see emerging, but part of the pollution can be between two waters or at the bottom of the sea”, detailed the maritime prefecture.
An investigation was opened by the Marseille prosecutor’s office, responsible for maritime pollution cases on the French Mediterranean coast, which assured Monday in a statement that everything was “Implemented to identify the commander and the company responsible for this pollution”. According to the prosecution, “The screening has identified a number of suspicious vessels and checks are underway”. Saturday on Twitter, Gilles Simeoni, President of the Executive Council of Corsica, asked for “Severely sanction the perpetrators and those responsible” of this pollution.
In the past, several boat captains who carried out savage degassing in the Mediterranean were condemned. In 2016, the courts fined the Tunisian Navigation Company for 500,000 euros for a degassing committed in 2009 by one of its ferries. In 2008, the Italian captain of a bulk carrier, who carried out a savage degassing south of Toulon in French territorial waters in 2003, was even sentenced to six months in prison. At the end of 2018, beaches in the Var had been heavily polluted by oil after the collision of two ships off Corsica.