Tar Washes Up on Saadiyat Beaches

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Beachgoers have reported a tar-like substance washing ashore on Saadiyat Island’s beaches. (Photo Credit: The National)

Article courtesy of  | Feb 15, 2016 | TheNational | Shared as educational material

ABU DHABI // Beachgoers have reported a tar-like substance washing ashore on Saadiyat Island’s beaches.

On Monday morning, staff at Saadiyat Public Beach, managed by Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company, informed visitors about the substance, which they said was tar.

Resident J M said she noticed something was wrong during a morning walk. “It’s for miles, from Saadiyat Public Beach to past the St Regis hotel,” she said. “They told us and they are trying to deal with it, they have workers scraping it up with brooms and putting it in plastic bags, but it’s not enough,” she said.

Other beachgoers left the beach with what they claim was tar stuck to the bottom of their shoes.

Australian J M had to scrape the substance off her feet with a shell and said Saadiyat was one of the last beaches untouched by pollution and feared that it was now in danger.

Another beachgoer, R T, said visitors were offered what she believed was paint thinner on their way out to get the substance off their feet. “It’s still stuck to my feet, I can smell it, but on our way out they said that this was something to get it off, it smelt like paint thinner, “ she said.

A source at a UAE environmental agency said this was not the first time they heard of such problems on Saadiyat.

“Professionals need to get on this,” the source said.

On Sunday the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi received a notification of beach pollution on Sadiyaat Island and sent its environmental emergency team to conduct an initial assessment.

The tests confirmed a tar-like substance contaminating the shoreline, and after a full investigation into the cause they have concluded that the residue is most probably tar.

“The most probable source of this incident is due to a discharge of ballast water from an unknown vessel. Ballast water can contain a variety of biological materials that may include non-native or exotic species,” said Dr Humaid Al Kindi, manager of the emergency environmental management arm of the EAD.

“These materials may cause ecological harm to aquatic ecosystems. In this case, no significant harm was done,” he said.

“Our environmental assessment found that the beaches were contaminated only with light tar oil balls along the shoreline,” Dr Al Kindi said.

“The beaches have been cleaned up and were later reopened to the public. As part of its continuing marine water quality programme, EAD will continue to work with hotels to ensure the safety of our beaches.”

He commended the action taken by the hotels on Saadiyat and said they would continue working with them to further ensure environmental quality.

EAD encourages members of the public to report any illegal activities pertaining to the marine environment, evidence of spillage or injured marine life to the Abu Dhabi government call centre on 800-555.

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