Abdulaziz Al Madfa, Director General of the Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authorities (SEPAA), yesterday confirmed that oil was still leaking from the Georgian-flagged oil tanker 'Zainab'.

"Oil is still leaking from the sunken ship and all that can be done is to clean-up the affected beaches and areas due to bad weather and high seas," Al Madfa told Gulf News yesterday.
He stressed the importance of working out a national contingency plan to deal with any oil spill or any other environmental crisis in the country.

"Studies have been prepared for such a national contingency plan which was recommended to the higher authorities. However, the plan was not approved due to budget-related reasons," said Al Madfa.

Issa Mohammed, Head of the Environment Section at the Sharjah Ports Authority, said that local and federal teams fought against the oil slick which hit the emirate's beaches yesterday morning.

"The oil slick spread along five kilometres along the emirate's beaches. Joint teams have isolated the Sharjah Creek and the lagoons to protect them from pollution," said Mohammed.
Residents in Al Khan area and other parts of the emirate said that water supply was cut from their houses yesterday afternoon.

A housewife at Al Khan area said: "I am afraid that this will last for a long time due to the oil slick. We are very concerned as we were not prepared for such an emergency. We are wondering how to get water for drinking and washing until the water supply is resumed."

Sources said that the Al Liyya Water Desalination Plant and the adjacent Zulal Drinking Water Factory were closed down again due to the oil slick. However, no official confirmation of the closure of the plant and the factory could be obtained from the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) last night.

The plant was shut down on Monday after small patches of oil were spotted around two nautical miles from its sea inlets. The plant was reopened three hours later after confirmation that its inlets were safe from pollution.