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Health Part 4: Black Tide

June 3, 2008

According to the United Nations, the oil spill caused by Israel’s attack on Lebanon in 2006 is the size of the Exxon Valdez spill from 1989. Photos of the aftermath.

Next month marks the two-year anniversary of what Israelis refer to as the Second Lebanon War and Lebanese as the July War. The conflict lasted 33 days, in which time Israeli forces mounted a targeted bombing campaign on Lebanese infrastructure, such as Rafic Hariri International Airport, which Israel claimed was being used to import weapons that would be used by Hezbollah. But a lesser known side effect of the conflict has been a toll on the health of ordinary Lebanese, not to mention the environment.

The trouble began when the Israeli Air Force bombed Lebanon’s Jiyeh Power Station on July 14 and 15, 2006. According to the United Nations, the oil spill caused by the attack is the size of the Exxon Valdez spill from 1989. As is so often the case with warfare, ordinary Lebanese were left to face a nasty health crisis in the conflict’s wake; an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 tons of fuel oil leaked into the Mediterranean Sea, polluting about 200 kilometers (124 miles) of the Lebanese and Syrian coastline. According to Greenpeace, the spill has put the health of 2 million people at risk.

Mark Seager is a photographer based in London. His work has been published in The Independent Saturday Magazine, The Independent, FOTO8, Geo, The Sunday Times Magazine, Bad Idea Magazine, Conde Nast Traveller, Maxim, DJ Magazine, De Groener Amsterdamer, FHM, London Evening Standard, Diplo, Amnesty International Magazine, South China Morning Post Review. Mark is represented by Grazia Neri in Milan.

These images are part of a Guernica series of documentary photography on the theme of ‘Health’ which will showcase five photographers introduced and edited by Ann Tornkvist.

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