Israel launched a national operation to clean up the country’s western coastal strip, following severe tar pollution in the Eastern Mediterranean sea, several coastal municipalities and the Israeli environment organization EcoOcean said on Saturday.
The ongoing operation is led by Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, which has activated a national emergency plan along with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
So far, beaches of 16 local authorities in Israel, including the major cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa, were contaminated with dozens of tonnes of tar in total.
The Israeli Coast Patrol organization reported that sea turtles have died due to the marine tar pollution.
Also, several cleaning workers received medical treatment at a hospital after inhaling tar fumes, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 12 news.
The municipalities of Tel Aviv and Herzliya in central Israel, Haifa at the north and Ashdod at the south said on Saturday that cleaning staff and volunteers helped clear the tar and prevent it from seeping into groundwater, while residents were instructed to avoid bathing in the sea.