"What Impact Will Costa Concordia Disaster Have on the Environment?"

"The fate of the Costa Concordia cruise liner highlights the wider impact of the cruise industry."

"Now that the search-and-rescue teams trying to find survivors in the wreck of the Costa Concordia have signalled 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 timebomb'. 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 tonnes 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 minimise 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 114,500-tonne ship and has said it will start the procedure 'within days'."

Leo Hickman reports for the Guardian's EcoAudit blog January 17, 2012.

SEE ALSO:

"Italy Risks Environmental Disaster If Ship Fuel Leaks" (Reuters)

"Oversight of Cruise Lines at Issue as Italian Rescue Efforts Resume" (New York Times)

"Concordia Cruise Disaster: Pollution Fears as Ship Begins To Slip" (Telegraph)

"Whales, Sharks Threatened By Stricken Cruise Liner, Says Green Group" (CNN)

"Environmental Risk 'High' From Italian Cruise Shipwreck" (ENS)

Source: Guardian, 01/17/2012