Corsica: what do we know about the pollution threatening the coasts?



A black furrow in the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Heavy oil slicks were observed east of Corsica on Friday. This Saturday they are dangerously approaching the coasts of the tourist sector of Aleria-Solenzara. The first layer is now located 800 meters from the coast in the Aleria area, while the second off the municipality of Solenzara, is 3.5 kilometers away, according to the Haute-Corse prefecture.

► Where does this pollution that threatens the Corsican coasts come from?

The pollution spotted on Friday during a military air exercise off Solenzara, “Probably results from degassing” illegal ship in the Mediterranean, indicates the maritime prefecture. This process, prohibited at sea, consists for a ship in ridding its fuel tanks of the gases which remain there when they are empty.

An investigation was opened and entrusted to the maritime gendarmerie to “Identify the vessel responsible for this pollution”, while a speedboat on the spot makes observations, indicated Colonel Jean-Guillaume Remy, commander of the Mediterranean group. This will include retracing the route of the ships present in the area, ” normally all geolocatable, explains to The cross Antidia Citores, spokesperson for the NGO Surfrider Foundation Europe (1), and to detect precisely if some of them have cut their transponder, which could prove the intentionality of a possible maneuver.

► What is the nature of this pollution?

It is a persistent viscous slick that sits on the surface of the water, details Antidia Citores. This type of pollution, easier to locate and collect during cleaning operations, can lead us to think that we are not dealing with ‘classic’ degassing, which is characterized by oily and light discharges which are diluted in a few hours. but rather washing the tank of an oil tanker, which could be compared to an oil change. “

→ INFOGRAPHIC. The long list of oil spills for half a century
This sticky material can be found in the form of “balls” when it touches the ribs. Those of Corsica, ” very rocky “, are ” particularly vulnerable and could be particularly difficult to clean “, Worries the NGO which announces filing a complaint against X.

► What does the Polmar-Terre plan consist of?

Triggered on Saturday by the prefecture of Haute-Corse, the Polmar (POLlutions MARine) -Terre device is set up to fight against marine pollution by hydrocarbons on the French coast, as during the sinking of theAmoco Cadiz in 1978,Erika in 1999 and Prestige in 2002.

About 80 civil security soldiers, firefighters and gendarmes were deployed. “They are equipped with tools for collecting hydrocarbons on the ground if they come into contact with the coasts, as well as protective equipment”, specified the prefecture. The French Navy sent two chartered support and assistance vessels (BSAA), Pioneer and Jason, “With specific anti-pollution equipment and specialized personnel from the anti-pollution cell of the Toulon naval base”.

Work to protect the coastal ponds is underway, such as the closure of the mouth of the Diane pond by silting up. The installation of nautical dams is also envisaged.

Access to beaches and fishing are also prohibited for some forty kilometers, between the municipalities of Aleria and Ventiseri. The prefecture also recommended to residents “Not to go to the beaches close to these areas. The perimeter of the decree will be reviewed based on information on the drift of the slicks ”.

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