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Report on the Lebanon Oil Spill Rapid Assessment / Response Mission
Study to be supplemented by chapter on ?Options for Legal Actions in International Law?
18 October 2006
The final report on the Lebanon Oil Spill Rapid Assessment / Response Mission prepared by Prof. Richard Steiner for the IUCN ? The World Conservation Union - in September 2006 provides a comprehensive first assessment and response guidance to the environmental harm caused to the Lebanon?s coastal and marine ecosystem by the oil spill due to the bombing of the Jiyyeh power plant on 13-15 July 2006 by the Israeli forces.
The IUCN mission found that the coastal and marine environment along the Lebanese shoreline is heavily affected by the oil spill. The mission was called by the Lebanese Ministry of Environment and involved IUCN expert commissions and members. Examinations of mousse slicks and sheen taken from the shoreline north of the Jiyyeh power plant have found toxic substances such as poly-nuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
?This is a particular risk to marine organisms,? says Rick Steiner, an oil expert and member of the IUCN Commission on Environmental and Economic Social Policy. Steiner, who worked on the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, explained that PAHs provoke cancer and they can accumulate in the species? organs and cause long term impacts such as the sudden collapse of fish populations years after contamination, as happened in Alaska.
The report considers briefly the issue of claims and international pollution compensation related to the oil spill.
Following the release of the Steiner report, the Institute for Environmental Security and the T.M.C. Asser Institute in The Hague are producing an additional chapter under the title Options for Legal Actions in International Law. The additional study is being supported by OXFAM-NOVIB.
The chapter will include a first assessment of the Lebanon oil spill in respect to international customary law of war, international environmental law, international criminal law, international civil law and the potential options for international legal action due to environmental damage. It will also report on the state of affairs from an international humanitarian law perspective and the positions of Israel and Lebanon in respect to the main international law conventions.