x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Saadiyat beaches reopen two weeks after oil spill

A discharge of ballast water from an unknown water vessel caused a minor oil spill along St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort beach and the Park Hyatt Hotel beach on Saadiyat Island last month, the environment agency said on Sunday.

An oil spill that forced swimmers off Saadiyat Island beaches last month was caused by a discharge of ballast water from an unknown vessel, the environment agency said on Sunday.

The oil came ashore on February 14 along St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort beach and the Park Hyatt Hotel beach on the island. A team from the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) visited the site, collected water samples for analysis and investigated the cause of the spill.

On Sunday, Dr Humaid Al Kindi, manager of the emergency management environment quality section at EAD, announced that they had completed their investigation. A discharge of ballast water was the “most probable identified source” of the minor oil spill, he said.

“Ballast water can have a negative impact on the marine environment and typically contains a variety of biological materials that may include non-native or exotic species,” Dr Al Kindi said. “These materials can cause extensive ecological damage to aquatic ecosystems.”

The investigation also found that the beaches at St Regis and the Park Hyatt Hotel were contaminated with minor and light tar oil balls, and a dead seagull was found on the beach, Dr Al Kindi said.

The beaches reopened on February 21, said a spokeswoman for Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.

The Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority, which has been notified of the oil spill, will continue to monitor the waters for any illegal activities.

The environment agency is encouraging the public to report any illegal marine activity to the Abu Dhabi Government Contact Centre at 800-555.

rruiz@thenational.ae