|The island of Giglio seen from the Maremma National Park beach|
After a weekend of tension and prayers for the unaccounted passengers and crew members and the relentless hope that as many as possible will still be found alive, the focus is starting to shift. The Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster in front of the Tuscan Island of Giglio has asked 6 human lives so far (16 are still unaccounted for). But the human tragedy may also turn into an ecological nightmare for the Tuscan coastline and its nature reserves.
With the expected change in weather and a possible movement of the Costa Concordia the salvage of the grounded ship may become a major problem. It's estimated that the Italian cruise ship is carrying around 2400 tons of fuel. As Reuters reports any leaking of it will turn the Isle of Giglio and the Tuscan coastal areas from Mediterranean paradise into an environmental emergency.
The Southern Tuscan coast is renown for its pristine nature. Giglio island is a protected area in its own right, as much as the other six islands (Elba, Capraia, Giannutri, Gorgona, Pianosa and Montecristo) belonging to the Tuscan archipelago National Park .
The close by Monte Argentario peninsula is a partly protected area and the Tuscan coast facing the isle of Giglio is home to a multitude of nature reserves (see detailed map):
- the Orbetello lagoon, bird watching paradise and according to the WWF the most important lagoon of the Tyrrhenian sea
- the Feniglia Nature Reserve
- the famous Maremma National Park, home to migrating birds from all over Europe.
Smit, the Dutch company specializing in salvage of ship casualties estimates that two weeks will be needed to empty the fuel tank of the Costa Concordia. Any change in weather or movement of the ship may put at risk the massive fuel transfer and the following ship wreck removal.
The type of fuel used for these type of cruise ships is especially dense, which makes its impact on the ecosystem even more destructive.
In the meantime the Italian environment minister Corrado Clini suggests a ban of big ships crossing protected and environmentally important areas in Italy.
Visualizza Southern Tuscany Nature Reserve on the Coast in una mappa di dimensioni maggiori