The Black Sea is already considered one of the most polluted seas in the world. In the last 40 years it turned into a sort of depository for half of Europe, a place for depositing huge amounts of phosphorus compounds, mercury, DDT, oil and other toxic wastes coming from the 160 million people inhabiting its shores.
The contamination has already had severe environmental
effects: from the 26 species of fish captured in the '60s in the Black Sea, today only 5 species can be exploited. The dolphin population, once healthy and strong, numbering 1,000,000 individuals has plummeted rapidly to 200,000. Many of the remaining dolphins are infested with porcine pest due to pig farms draining the wastes in Danube.
The monk seal of the Black Sea is already extinct.
The new oil spill due to the break in half of an oil tanker during a storm in the Kerch Strait that connects the Black and Azov seas has killed over 30,000 birds. Volganeft-139 spilled about 2,000 tons (560,000 gallons) of fuel oil into the water and several other ships, transporting toxic chemicals, sunk during the area's worst storms for 30 years. Hundreds of soldiers still clean up the oil spill, removing heavy clumps of seaweed and sand caked with oil.
The cleaning operations could last 40 to 45 days, but the operations are hampered by the bad weather and the oil spill is heading towards the Azov Sea, rather than Black Sea.
Environmentalists believe that it will take five years for nature to recover. Thousands of birds were trapped in the oil spill for over three days, and with their plumage affected by oil, they froze due to the cold rain. Local hunters saved some of them.
As hundreds of kilometers on the coasts of the Azov Sea are affected by oil pollution, local fishermen have lost their jobs. Oil levels in the area are over 50 times above the maximum permitted levels in sea water.
By now 1.700 tons of the leaked oil have been recovered.