Costa Concordia: Environmental Groups Warn The Final Voyage Could Also Be A Disaster

Two years later and the Costa Concordia is still wrecked on the small Italian island of Giglio. Italy’s emergency commissioner is now calling for the decayed wreckage to be removed before someone gets hurt, but environmental groups say moving the Costa Concordia to fast might be an environmental disaster.

The Costa Concordia was the ship that made headlines in January 2012, when it hit a rock off the shore of Giglio, Italy. The ship grounded and partially sank. Thirty-two people died and the captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial for manslaughter and abandoning ship.

Now comes the difficult question: what happens to the ship?

Since the Italian commissioner has called attention to the rotting safety hazard, final preparations are being made to remove Costa Concordia. It will be refloated in mid-July.

There are two ports the Costa Concordia could be taken to: Genoa in Liguria and Piombino in Tuscany. Both Italian ports are fighting to get the contract to dismantle the ship. Genoa looks like it has the contract wrapped up, since it will be ready to receive the ship anytime, and Piombino needs more time.

In a meeting of 19 competent authorities, only two voted against moving the ship to Genoa: the Tuscany Region and the Province of Grosseto. Costa Crociere, which owns the Costa Concordia and would have to bear the cost of moving it, has presented a project for the transportation of the Concordia wreck to Genoa for its dismantling and recycling. The Italian Council of Ministers will make a final decision next week.

Despite the probable economic bias for those voting, there is an environmental risk involved in the move.

The route between Genoa and Giglio goes right through an international marine protected zone for the safeguard of marine mammals, especially whales. Moving the Costa Concordia risks releasing contaminated material into a fragile protected ecosystem.

Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have both written letters to Ministry for the Environment, concerned about the length of towing, potential bad weather and resistance against the Costa Concordia in tow. They have yet to receive replies.

“We are witnessing a systematic underestimation of the environmental risks” Greenpeace and the WWF stated in a joint press release.

The Regional Agency for Environmental Protection in Tuscany (ARPAT) said they only voted for Genoa because Costa Crociere has not presented a better option that could be done on the new deadline.

Then there are the people stuck in the middle.

An environmental report from Costa Crociere (Costa Cruises) says removing the Costa Concordia threatens to contaminate the beautiful waters around Giglio.

The island of Giglio, which has wanted the Costa Concordia removed for two years now, is dependent the tourism industry. Ruining the waters around their island would cause an economic disaster for the locals.

Safety, the environment and money have collided to create a headache for the Italian government. Will the Costa Concordia continue to cause suffering, still?

Image Source: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)