(Photo: Instagram / _svetlana__radionova_)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Georgian National Platform, a coalition of more than 200 non-governmental organizations, expresses concern over an oil spill off Russia’s Black Sea coast and calls on the Georgian government to take appropriate measures to prevent the spill from causing major environmental destruction and threatening the Georgian coastline.

In the statement issued Wednesday, the GNP says that the Russian government is hiding the true extent of the damage to the environment.

“It is disturbing that the Russian Federation continues efforts to hide information. As it turned out later, the spill occurred at the terminal that belongs to the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) during the loading of a Greek tanker. The contractor at the Black Sea port is Transneft Service, a subsidiary of state-owned Transneft,“ the statement reads.

“We call on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia to take control of the issue. It is crucial to use all international tools (under the Convention and the Agreement) to force the Russian Federation to provide transparent and accurate information to the Black Sea countries. It is noteworthy that in the event the oil spill spreads widely, first of all, the waters along Abkhazia will be endangered.

“The Russian authorities should also be urged to implement relevant activities to prevent potential environmental disasters that may be caused by disorganized systems and increased oil production.,” the GNP states.

(Photo: Space Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences.)

The leak occurred in early August six kilometers off the coast of Novorossiysk, a Russian port on the Black Sea. The oil was released during refueling of a Greek tanker. The consortium responsible for the leak initially claimed the area of contamination was only two hundred square meters, about the size of a tennis court. But three days after the leak, the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences said a large oil slick with an area about 85 square kilometers – about the size of Manhattan – was seen in satellite images in the sea near Novorossiysk. 

The oil spill has been compared to the sinking of the Greek tanker “Prestige” off the coast of Spain in 2002, which caused the death of two hundred and fifty thousand birds.