Greek government is facing criticism for its delayed and ineffective response in the wake of the oil spill from a sunken tanker, which has spread to some of Athens’s most popular beaches.
Crews scrambled to clean up the oil that escaped from the 45-year-old vessel; Agia Zoni II, which was carrying 2,500 tonnes of fuel when it sank off the island of Salamis on Sunday.
By Thursday, a thick oily tide had covered stretches of the Athenian Riviera, several kilometres away.
Freattyda, Piraiki, the beach of Paraskevas and the sea in front of the Naval Academy are the beaches polluted in Piraeus. Further down the coast, on the beaches of Aghios Kosmas, Elliniki and Glyfada, the pollution has almost reached the sun loungers.
Barricade tape has been set up by police, indicating that swimming is banned at all beaches.
“Even if the oil leaves the surface of the water, the rest is going to sink and set in the sand. We’ll step in and (our feet) will turn black.”
Oil has also coated parts of Glyfada beach. Local Mayor Giorgos Papanikolaou, said that the situation is very difficult, adding that it could spell disaster for the town as only this year its beach was awarded a blue flag status.
Greek authorities say that it could take up to a month to clean up affected areas.
The coast guard said authorities had sealed the shipwreck on Tuesday, and there was no further spillage.
Privately-owned tank trucks were working to clean up the pollution assisted by floating cranes and offshore anti-pollution vessels, the coast guard said.