In 2007, as much as 100 tons of oil was spilt when a cruise ship sank a few hundred meters from Santorini, a large tourist attraction and an iconic Greek isle. The Sea Diamond, a Greek ship carrying 1,156 passengers, was trying to dock at Santorini’s port when it hit a volcanic reef, sinking 15 hours later. Four miles of coastline was affected by up to 100 tons of leaked oil.
More than 13 million foreign tourists visit Greece every year and many head to Santorini, which has hilltop villages, spectacular views and pristine waters. The sinking of the 22,500-ton vessel, operated by Louis Hellenic Cruise Lines, is believed to have been caused by human error. The ship’s captain blamed strong sea currents for sweeping his vessel into the reef just minutes before docking.
The Polyeco Group response team was activated immediately and arrived on site to contain the spill and to begin clean-up operations. On water oil recovery operations began and the containment and the clean-up of the affected coastline was also initiates.
The delicate ecosystem and value of Santorini to Greece made this a challenging cleanup operations. All operations had to be planned and executed perfectly in order to restore the environment to its natural state. There was a huge amount of media coverage, considering the value of the area and the nature of the incident, which also meant the cleanup operations were heavily scrutinized and followed. The coastline was restored to its original condition and the island was able to return to its normal activities.