Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 4 August 2020

Environment

Holiday campers complain of oil spill along Al Aqah beach in Fujairah

The oil covered around 1.5km of the beach and reached some of the hotels next to the camping site

Oil washed up on Al Aqah beach in November 2019. The particles could be seen stretching along the two-kilometre Al Aqah beach and on Dibba beach, 8km to the north. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Oil washed up on Al Aqah beach in November 2019. The particles could be seen stretching along the two-kilometre Al Aqah beach and on Dibba beach, 8km to the north. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Beachgoers have spotted trails of oil along Al Aqah Beach in Fujairah after an oil spill hit the area on Sunday.

A number of campers shared videos of the coastline covered with black oil that was washed ashore.

The oil covered around 1.5 kilometres of the beach and reached some of the hotels next to the public beach camping site.

Livia Behiry was camping at the beach along with family and friends when she smelt a foul odour and noticed the black oil along the coast at about 12pm on Sunday.

“The smell was awful and toxic and the sand was covered with black oil,” said Ms Behiry, 36, Romanian resident of Dubai.

“We usually camp here with friends and we like the area a lot but what I saw on Sunday made me feel sad and worried about the marine life and the environment."

Ms Behiry was camping with her husband, daughter, 2, and some friends.

“We decided to go camping on Friday, so we packed our stuff and drove to Al Aqah public beach camp," she said.

“Everything was going great, but on Saturday we saw some dead fish, crab and jellyfish on the beach, the water looked okay, so we didn’t think much about it.

“We figured out what killed the fish after seeing the oil along the beach on Sunday noon.”

Samer Khalil, a family friend of Ms Behiry, took a video of the oil spill.

He said this was not the first time as he has witnessed spills in the same area.

“I remember we came here last November and there were patches of oil in the water that got stuck on our skin while swimming,” said Mr Khalil, 43, an Egyptian hotelier living in Dubai.

“But this time it was much worse and covered the whole beach, filling the air with a very bad smell, like gas.

“We saw dead fish, like the size of the palm of my hand, on the beach and dead jellyfish too but didn’t know what caused their death.

"But on Sunday we found out the reason behind their death when we saw the sand full of black toxic oil.

"It is sad to see our best camping spot getting polluted by the oil and it's really painful to see fish dying because of it, and I hope that it will never happen again."

Oil spills in Fujairah are not new.

Two years ago, a spate of oil spills was blamed on tankers dumping crude-laden ballast water offshore.

A 2km-long spill was spotted off the coast of Al Aqah area of Dibba in March 2017, forcing beach closures in the area.

Two captains of commercial vessels have also been accused of causing an oil spill off the shores of Fujairah and Kalba in October 2019 after their vessels collided.

The crash caused diesel to leak into the sea and left a 3km oil slick along the coastline.

In November 2019, an oil spill on Al Aqah beach forced some hotels to close their facilities as patches of sticky tar were seen stretching along the beach.

Updated: March 3, 2020 04:23 PM

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