Corsica: a process of cleaning up the coast and the sea after oil pollution

The oil pollution that led to the closure of several beaches in eastern Corsica seemed limited on Monday night, three days after the discovery of a probable degassing from a ship that investigators are still searching for.

Since spotting the pollution on Friday during a military air exercise off Corsica, air, sea and land resources have been engaged to try to clean up oil residues as the island’s tourist beauty season begins. On Monday, helicopters continued to track greasy stains at sea.

“Micro-pellets, very scattered and increasingly finely observed by air,” frigate captain Christine Ribbe, a spokeswoman for the Mediterranean maritime prefecture, told Monday night. Several tons of oil have already been extracted over the weekend.

On Monday afternoon, oil balls were found on Favone Beach (Corse-du-Sud) demanding its closure by prefectural decree. “Arrivals of light over 300 to 400 linear meters have been observed,” the prefecture told AFP on Monday night.

A few kilometers further north, on Solaro Beach, on the edge of Solenzara, a seaside resort on the east coast, dumplings were also reported to authorities as early as Sunday night. “It looks like little black pebbles, nothing very important and imposing. On the other hand, there were a lot of them on the beach,” Ange-Toussaint Gambini, Corte’s head of civil security, told AFP on Monday.

The contaminated areas were banned and denied access by the gendarmes, especially the entrance to the camp overlooking the beach. At around 12 noon, all the remains were removed, the Haute-Corsa prefecture announced on Twitter.

Present at the scene, Prefect François Ravier announced to AFP “surveillance of all beaches except the Solaro, at a linear distance of 30 km”, recalling that access to beaches and bathing is prohibited in the cities of southern Haute-Corsa.

– Poll in Marseille –

At sea, surveillance remains active, using two Civil Security and Gendarmerie helicopters, a National Navy plane and five boats to be joined during the day by a tugboat from Ajaccio.

“This morning we saw greasy stains and micro pellets requiring investigation,” the maritime prefecture indicated at noon.

A turtle that was not polluted but was “tired” was found in the area.

The investigation was opened by the prosecutor’s office in Marseille, responsible for cases of marine pollution on the French Mediterranean coast, which on Monday assured that everything was “done to identify the commander and the company responsible for this pollution”.

According to the prosecution, “a search has identified a number of suspicious vessels and checks are underway.”

On Saturday, on Twitter, Gilles Simeoni, president of the Corsica Executive Council, called for “strict sanctions against the authors and those responsible” for the pollution.

In the past, several captains of ships that carried out savage degassing in the Mediterranean were convicted. In 2016, courts fined the Tunisian navigation company 500,000 euros for degassing in the Mediterranean, which was committed in 2009 by one of its ferries. In 2008, the Italian captain of a bulk carrier, who in 2003 carried out a savage degassing south of Toulon in French territorial waters, was even sentenced to six months in prison.

At the end of 2018, the beaches in Var were heavily polluted with oil after the collision of two ships from Corsica.

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