Tirana, 9 November 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
During the weekend, citizens of Durres were witnesses of disturbing images: The city’s beach was entirely polluted, including the sea and the sand, from the area known as Bridge of Dajlan to the “Iliria” arena.
A large amount of hydrocarbons, suspected to have been let off by a ship, spread across a three kilometer services on water and on the sand of the beach. This area consists of the entire tourist area in the Beach of Durres, populated by residents and tourists. Assisted by the waves, the pollution managed to touch the first strip of sand, while the smell was very bad.
Minister of Environment, Lefter Koka was at the scene. “This is one of the most flagrant cases. It’s a really serious situation. A considerable amount of oil and diesel is on the shore of the traditional beach of Durres”, Koka said informing that the National Environmental Agency has taken samples to analyze the origin of this pollution.
Mr. Koka seems irritated by this, because according to him, many sea vessels, domestic or foreign, consider the Albanian territory as a place to discharge dangerous wastes.
“The damage doesn’t only consist of the unpleasant smell for the residents, but this is also great damage for fishing and the tourism of this coast”, Koka notes.
The minister says that this is an event that shows that “we are not prepared in coping with such situations and take precautionary measures”.
But will the responsible and those who have not monitored the pollution be held accountable? Koka says: “I promise you this. I feel bad about the fact that we have not prevented it, but I assure you that we will do our best to apprehend those who are responsible for this”.
Minister of Agriculture, Edmond Panariti was also at the scene. He said that he ordered the suspension of fishing activities in the polluted area until the lab results come out. Teams from the National Food Authority have taken samples of fish and shell fish from the polluted area and are carrying out analyses.
Italian and Montenegrin ships are suspected
Police, on its part, is conducting inquiries about this uncommon event. They said that they are investigating a possible discharge of a large amount of hydrocarbons from ships which are yet to be identified officially, which spread on a length of three kilometers on water and the beach sand.
Sources from the investigation group say that they have identified two ships, which are believed to have discharged on Albanian waters several tons of engine burned oil.
Authorities at the Port of Durres verified the movement of ships in Albanian waters and prepared a report for police. Authorities suspect that an Italian ship carrying fuel and another one anchored in e Montenegrin port, were passing on the area where the waste was discharged.
Verification for the engine burned oil deposits was demanded, to see if they have been emptied out.
To verify the place and time of the waste, the experts of the military fleet are specifying the possible wasted amount, the place and the time that it was needed for the material discharged at sea to arrive on the coast of Durres.
The Prosecution says that it has two leads. The first one is an intentional pollution of Albanian waters, while the second one relates to an intentional action by crew members, in order not to pay the charge for the discharge of burned engine oil in the port’s deposits.
According to Albanian legislation, the pollution of waters receives a sentence from 5 to 10 years imprisonment.
The environmentalist warns a serious threat from pollution
The discharge of fuel in the coast of Durres will continue to remain a serious threat as water and sand cannot be cleaned 100% from the liquid wastes.
This is the opinion of environmentalist Sazan Guri. He confirms the fact that the discharge of fuel on sea has direct consequences in the ecosystem.
Meanwhile, he says that the consequences could have been minimized in case there were companies specialized for the treatment of fuel wastes.
Efforts for the normalization of situation in the Beach of Durres
A day after the serious ecological situation in the “Iliria” beach in Durres, the coast strip was involved in a cleaning sand operation.
Not only the municipality’s workers, but the Army too came out to clean the sand polluted by fuel.
The mayor of Durres, Vangjush Dako said that on Monday, the sand of the beach of Durres will be clean. As far as the sea is concerned, he said: “The air forces have constantly monitored it and have concluded that the situation is positive”.
Minister of Defence, Mimi Kodheli told IBNA that the Armed Forces and Navy are patrolling in order to assist the citizens of Durres after the pollution of sea waters on the beach.
Kodheli says that “Armed Forces are closely following the situation in the beach of Durres. The Navy with two anti-pollution ships, a patrol ship, a helicopter of the Air Forces to assist the citizens”.
Commander of the Navy, general brigadier Ylber Dogjani explains how the intervention is taking place. He says that intensive efforts are being made in collaboration with the local government to bring back the situation to normality. “The Navy Command has offered 3 vessels and 35 troops, while the Air Force Command has offered helicopters to monitor the sea coast of Durres”, said the Albanian senior military official. /ibna/