Two separate oil slicks are currently moving down the Nile, the sources of which are currently unknown to the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA). A source from within the agency admitted on Sunday that they had no clue as to the origin of the oil, but were working closely with the water and environmental police to investigate the source and to contain the damage.
“The minister of state for environmental affairs [Mustafa Hussein Kamel] has also set-up a special task force designed to combat the spread of the spill,” the source, who requested anonymity, said. A statement released Sunday by the EEAA said the role of the new task force, known as the Rapid Intervention Unit, will be to combat pollution of the Nile.
The unit will conduct water quality tests and will also inspect tourist vessels in places such as Luxor to ensure they comply with environmental regulations. They will have the power to take legal action against those who violate environmental regulations.
The petroleum ministry was hesitant to comment on the spill, limiting their response to diverting queries to the Egyptian General Petroleum Company (EGPC). A ministry employee said the EGPC was responsible for any on the ground operations that may be conducted. Likewise, the EGPC media department said they had no additional information to share and information should be sought from the petroleum ministry and the EEAA.
State news agency MENA reported on Saturday that the chairman of the drinking water and sanitation department in Menya, Khalifa Radwan, said drinking water was not interrupted in the province and that all water plants were still functional.
Radwan noted that the oil slick moved through the governorate and reached Beni Suef by Saturday.
Last week the EEAA declared a state of emergency in Aswan, Qena and Luxor due to the oil slick drifting down the Nile. Several water treatment facilities were shut down and citizens were warned against drinking tap water until the system could be inspected.
The oil slick reached Cairo’s Giza governorate on Saturday, the Holding Company for Water and Wastewater (HCWW) reported. The oil caused the Giza water company to halt the pumping of drinking water from the Hawamdeya purification station which supplies half of the residents in the area.
HCWW said that the Nile contamination has so far not affected stations in Cairo. The company also promised it would provide alternative water sources in case stations are shut down.