Costa Concordia Poses Major Environmental Threat

While it is clear that there are so many things that are wrong about what happened with this cruise ship disaster, it’s important to look to the future and the long term affect it is going to have on the surrounding region.

Now that the search-and-rescue teams trying to find survivors in the wreck of the Costa Concordia have signaled that the operation is moving into the “recovery” stage, there is growing concern about the environmental impact that the half-submerged ship might have on the local coastline. Sergio Ortelli, the mayor of the small Tuscan island of Giglio where the cruise ship grounded last Friday, said on Monday that “this is an ecological time-bomb.”

The area is a well-known tourist destination where diving is a popular past-time. One diving website describes the waters off Giglio as “one of the most beautiful and fascinating” diving sites in the Mediterranean. With an estimated 2,380 tons of fuel on board, the race is now on to secure the ship – it is believed to have slipped on the seabed on Monday from a ledge 15-20 metres under the surface towards a far deeper channel – and prevent any fuel or other pollutants from escaping. Booms have already been placed on the surface around the stricken ship to try to minimize the damage caused by any fuel spills and the local coastguard has already instructed Costa Crociere, the ship’s owner, to remove the ship.

Smit, a Dutch salvage firm, has been hired to remove the fuel from the ship and has said it will start the procedure “within days.”

For the complete story, go to www.guardian.co.uk.

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