Ministry banned swimming in Attica – PM revokes all extended seaworthiness certificates

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday ordered that all certificates of seaworthiness that have received extensions should be immediately revoked and for the ships involved to undergo emergency inspections, during a meeting with the shipping ministry leadership at the Maximos Mansion.

According to a press release issued by the prime minister’s press office, the meeting was held to discuss the response to the oil spill in the Saronicos Gulf, which has spread from Salamina and the suburbs of Piraeus to the Athens ‘Riviera’ on Attica’s southern coast. It focused on the need to take immediate measures to investigate the causes of the accident and the sinking of the tanker “Agia Zoni II” and swiftly identify those responsible.

In addition to revoking extended seaworthiness certificates, the prime minister asked for an immediate sworn administrative inquiry to examine all parties involved in assessing the seaworthiness of “Agia Zoni II” and severe penalties of anyone found to be remiss.

Tsipras also gave orders that responsibility for ship surveys and inspections be transferred from the shipping ministry’s Commercial Fleet Inspection Sector to shipping registers, so that they can issue certificates of seaworthiness.

The prime minister additionally ordered that more ships be brought in to assist in the clean-up operation, so there is a faster and more thorough cleansing of the waters and coastline in the Saronic Gulf.

Earlier, with an urgent amendment to the relevant ministerial decision for 2017, Health Minister Andreas Xanthos on Friday temporarily banned swimming in all areas in Attica “until they have been restored.”

The ban lists six lengths of coastline, including many popular beaches in the greater Athens area and Piraeus. These are:

1. The shoreline from the Naval Academy up to Freattyda beach
2. The beaches in the Votsalakia area
3. All beaches in Alimos
4. All beaches in Paleo Faliro
5. All beaches in the Hellinikon-Argyropolis municipality
6. All beaches in Glyfada
7. In Limniona bay, along the length of the coastline from the Selinia stone theatre and the Selinia sailing club along the coast on Akti Themistokleous Street up to Agios Nikolaos Church.

The ministerial decision makes municipalities responsible for putting up signs to show that swimming is banned in the areas found unsuitable, after consulting with the departments for environmental health and sanitary inspections. It also asks the coast guard to police these points and ensure that the signs are not vandalised and are appropriately positioned.

The amended ministerial decision has been sent as an urgent document to all relevant services and agencies.