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Closure of Al-Shamlan harbor stays until further notice: EPA

 KUWAIT CITY, July 2, (KUNA): The Environment Public Authority (EPA) said, Wednesday, the closure of Al-Shamlan harbor remains and stays valid till further notice, as stipulated in an earlier EPA decision in this regard. EPA Deputy Chairman for Technical Affairs and Acting Deputy Chairman for Environment Oversight Mohammad Al-Enizi told KUNA the concerned area’s environmental status is still being monitored and assessed and reports that the closure had been pushed to a later date are baseless. “The closure decision is valid and is being implemented.”

The official said there had been many meetings between the EPA and Kuwait Ports Authority as well as the Fishermen Union and the agreement reached states on a time-table for addressing the issue of exit of boats from the harbor.

The first phase deals with small boats and vessels by regular sea-goers and the second addresses larger wooden boats, he noted. Al-Enizi urged all to mind regulations in this regard, stressing the closure decision came after thorough assessment and planning aimed to stem coastal and maritime pollution. The EPA had earlier decided to impose closure on the harbor, thus practicing its right to guarantee a set of criteria is met during utilization and construction of any facility or conducting any activity that might harm the environment.

The authority has the legal right to stop any activity, partially or completely, seen to be harmful to the environment. The closure followed a series of inspections and considerable number and severity of violations reported at the harbor by EPA teams, and failure to maintain conditions that would preserve this site of historical value.

Meanwhile, Kuwait Dive Team of The Environmental Voluntary Foundation carried out maintenance and replacement work at the flag post at Umm Al-Gaz Island, which was put on the manmade island during this year’s national celebrations. Head of team maritime operations Walid Al-Shatti told KUNA the divers had carried out this mission out of their belief in the importance of the island as a landmark and a part of Kuwaiti history.

The site, at the entrance to Kuwait Bay, is the best for a landmark that attests to Kuwait’s maritime heritage and seafaring history, he said. Known to all Kuwaitis in the past, the island was at the site of an old oil field, now closed. Though there is a lack of detailed documentation about its history, there is a belief that it was built back in the thirties of the last century.

Due to its positioning, 700 meters off the coast northwest of Kuwait Towers, it is impossible for any ship entering Kuwait Bay to miss it. It can also be seen by anyone along Arabian Gulf Road. The structure is 70 meters long, 30 meters wide, and comes to about two meters above water level. It was the first manmade island to be built in Kuwaiti territory. Al-Shatti pointed out the team would spare no effort to protect this landmark, as well as carry out maintenance so that the island itself does not compromise the maritime and coastal environment.

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