Greenpeace Activists to Shadow Costa Concordia During Tow

Mike Schuler
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July 22, 2014

Photo courtesy Italian Civil Protection Dept.

Update: She’s off! Track Costa Concordia Live – AIS MAP

With the departure of the Costa Concordia from Giglio scheduled for Wednesday morning, environmental activists with Greenpeace and the Italian group Legambiente plan follow along with the convoy as it travels through one of Europe’s largest marine sanctuaries.

Greenpeace has been at the wreck site at Giglio all week to monitor for pollution and oil spills during the refloating operation as part of a joint operation between Greenpeace Italy and Legambiente called “Costa, We are Watching You”. The group plans to follow the stricken ship in a chartered sailboat once the wreck leaves for Genoa under tow.

“We’re particularly concerned about impacts on the Pelagos sanctuary, which protects whales and other marine life in the area,” said Greenpeace in blog post.

The Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals is a vast marine protected area extending over an area 87,500 square kilometers of water in the north-western Mediterranean Sea. The tow to Genoa is expected to take about 4 days and will take place entirely within the protected area.

“We have repeatedly asked the government to consider alternative, nearer ports, and to provide details on the safety measures being taken,” said Greenpeace. “We have asked how possible pollution will be monitored and water quality assured. But Special Commissary Franco Gabrielli, responsible for the operation, never agreed to meet us, and our requests for information have gone unmet.”

The decision to tow to the Costa Concordia to Genoa was approved by the Italian government just prior to the start of the refloating operation and was based the port’s ability to perform the demolition work within set parameters and the time-sensitive nature of the removal.

Other ports in Italy, namely Piombino, which was considered another front runner for the demolition, lacked the current infrastructure needed to scrap the shipwreck, leading to even further delays in the removal of the wreck from Giglio. More delays would have meant more risk, especially since June provided the best chance for optimal weather for the towing operation. Waiting until September, or the possibility that the wreck would have to wait out another winter season at Giglio while the needed port infrastructure was built, was simply not an option.

“We can only hope that the transit proceeds without incident,” said Greenpeace. “But we wish the government were doing more to ensure that. We will play our part by monitoring the transit’s impact on the environment, and by continuing the fight for greater respect and protection for the sea and its living inhabitants.”

Protection of the environment has been at the forefront of the entire salvage operation and the Titan-Micoperi salvage team has gone to great lengths to ensure no additional harm to the island and waters have occurred. The tow to Genoa will be accompanied by a flotilla of vessels and aircraft monitoring the waters for any signs of oil spills, debris, or anything else that may pose a threat to the environment.

Perhaps the best thing Greenpeace and Legambiente can do now is not get in the way and trust that the salvage experts with Titan-Micoperi will see continued success in the last leg of the journey.

Full Coverage: Costa Concordia Refloating and Tow

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