NGOs warn about the risk of a marine disaster, were Costa Concordia to be towed to Genoa

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Shipbreaking Platform, a Brussels-based NGO, said towing Costa Concordia so far could result in releasing polluted water into the sea, which could contaminate specially protected areas: “The minimisation of environmental risks cannot be subordinated to financial interests.”

Maybe Genoa, maybe Turkey. It is all about comparing prices and choosing the less expensive solution. Yet, these are not the basis on which the dismantling of Costa Concordia should be based. The wrecked cruise has been into the sea facing the Italian Isola del Giglio for over two years, and environmental NGOs are worried about its towage and dismantling.

That’s why Shipbreaking Platform, an NGO grouping nineteen environmental, human rights and labour rights organisations working to end polluting and dangerous shipbreaking (including Greenpeace, Legambiente, WWF Italy) sent a letter to the Italian Environment Minster demanding a clean and safe dismantling.

The Platform is calling on the Italian government to guarantee that the ship owner and insurance will choose the most suited final destination for the wreck, that is, the closest one, in order to limit as much as possible the release of polluted water into the sea, which could contaminate specially protected areas. For instance, towing the wrecked ship to Genoa could mean damaging the Pelagos sanctuary, “the sanctuary of marine mammals,” specially protected area of sea among Liguria, Sardinia and Tuscany.

The decision must be based on an Environmental Impact Assessment, the results of which should be made available to the public. The EIA must be conducted on the basis of the proximity and self-sufficiency principles, which are fundamental principles of European waste law.

The first concern should then be the environment, not costs: “The Italian Government,” said Patrizia Heidegger, Executive Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, “must ask for the best possible techniques to reduce environmental risk during the towage and dismantling process. The minimisation of environmental risks cannot be subordinated to financial and other interests and it is the Governments responsibility to avoid harm to the environment and public health”.

The chosen ship recycling facility, said the NGOs, must comply with all domestic and European legislation governing waste management and environmental protection. In addition, the Italian Environment ministry shall monitor the company in charge of dismantling the Costa Concordia to guarantee that the environment and public health are protected throughout the whole duration of the dismantling operations, including the handling, transport and disposal of all hazardous waste that will be produced.



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