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ATHENS, Greece — The World Wildlife Fund filed a lawsuit in Greece on Monday over extensive pollution along Athens’ coastline following the sinking of a tanker near the country’s largest port of Piraeus.

The environmental group’s Greek branch filed the lawsuit in a Piraeus court against “anyone found responsible,” a common legal practice in Greece when the culprit of a crime hasn’t been formally identified.

WWF said it considered the case to be “an environmental crime deserving exemplary punishment.”

The Agia Zoni II tanker sank Sept. 10 while anchored in calm seas with 2,200 tons of fuel oil and 370 tons of marine gas oil. Oil slicks have extended from the nearby island of Salamina along the entire length of the Athens coastline, in waters hosting dolphins, turtles, seals and a variety of fish and sea birds.

WWF Greece head Demetres Karavellas said it was essential to ensure those responsible were identified “and that through a thorough analysis of the causes, we will emerge better prepared to avert or control similar accidents in the future.”

Many have criticized the government for what they said was a slow, inadequate response that allowed the leaking oil to spread along the greater Athens area’s coastline despite the sinking having occurred very near Piraeus, the country’s largest and best equipped port.

The government has rejected the criticism, insisting it had done everything possible to clean up the slick.

“The effort to tackle the pollution is a difficult affair that requires the immediate mobilization of all the responsible bodies,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told his cabinet ministers in televised comments Monday. “Already all available counter-pollution means have been mobilized and great efforts are being made.”

The Associated Press

Source: Canadian Press

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