Two million residents of Lebanon, about half the population, could face health risks posed by toxic releases from Israeli bombing in the July-August war, Greenpeace warned.
"Chemical traces and dust from buildings that were destroyed have heavily contaminated the air and land," said the environmental pressure group Greenpeace in a report presented in Beirut on its flagship Rainbow Warrior.
A picture made available by Greenpeace shows a Greenpeace diver handing his colleague shell fish samples he got from under water near a destroyed Lebanese electricity power plant that was hit by an Israeli raid in the July-August war. Two million residents of Lebanon, about half the population, could face health risks posed by toxic releases from Israeli bombing, Greenpeace warned.(AFP/Greenpeace-HO)
"In addition, bombed out factories have caused chemical releases that could potentially affect two million inhabitants in the country," it said, noting 30,000 homes, some 80 bridges and nine industrial facilities were destroyed.
Almost 1,200 civilians were killed in Lebanon during the July-August war between Israel and the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
Greenpeace said Israel's attacks on Jiyeh power plant south of the Lebanese capital had spilled between 10,000 and 15,000 tonnes of fuel into the sea, affecting 150 kilometres (90 miles) of Lebanon's coastline and part of Syria.
But it quoted the European Commission as saying: "Virtually all free oil at sea or harbours and marinas has now been recovered, leaving only very small quantities at sea.
"The oil spill is therefore not expected to spread further."
Greenpeace called for a comprehensive post-war damage assessment across the region. "Environmental recovery must be a priority of any post-conflict reconstruction strategy," it said.
The Rainbow Warrior, with divers on board, carried out three weeks mapping the extent of the underwater fuel oil contamination and collected samples for scientific analysis.
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