Costa Concordia Threatens Disaster for Ocean Life

By B. McPherson

The Costa Concordia holed and resting precariously on a submerged shelf in shallow water may slip off and sink. The fuel tanks of the doomed vessel are full of bunker fuel, a thick form of petroleum that needs to be heated to make it flow. 2 300 metric tonnes(2 530 US tons) will leak into the Mediterranean Sea if measures to pump the oil out fail. Unidentified liquid has been seen leaking from the ship and booms are being placed around it.

Floating booms and skimmers are less effective in rough waters which hit the area today forcing a suspension of the search for those still missing from the disaster.

The area where the ship rests is featured in tourist literature exhorting people to “travel Tuscany”. The island of Giglio is surrounded by healthy, clean water. The following is from a tourist blurb about the island.

“The Isola del Giglio is one of the most "beautiful children in Tuscany", as they are called in the popular language. Giglio's mild climate, unspoilt nature and crystal-clear waters, offer unforgettable holidays all year round. Head for the sandy beaches and beautiful coves if you want to relax, go for the incredibly rich underwater world if you're into diving…”gioia holiday apartments

Ship traffic and ship disasters are adding to the Earth’s burden of ocean pollution. The Doola 3 exploded and has sunk after delivering gasoline in South Korea. Rescue crews pumped bunker oil out of the vessel before it sunk. New Zealand has been coping with oil slicked beaches after the Liberian registered MVRena ran aground in October 2011 and started leaking.

Shipping accidents happen with surprising frequency. In most cases, little ocean pollution takes place and all is well, however some sunken/damaged vessels continue to kill wildlife with their toxic legacy for many years. The BC ferry Queen of the North which ran aground off the tricky BC coast continues to leak oil onto the nearby shores. Over 20 years ago the Exxon Valdes with a cargo of oil from Alaska ran aground. Oil from that wreck continues to poison marine life.

The Canadian federal government is pushing for the construction of a dual pipeline to carry oil to the small town of Kitimat which is located at the end of a tortuous inlet for export to Asia. Opponents of the Northern Gateway Project cite different reasons for their stance, but one that many agree on is the real danger of disaster if oil tankers must thread the needle of reefs, islands and twists that the inlet will present to them.

On a pessimistic morning, the poem The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot comes to mind.
This is the way the world ends
 This is the way the world ends
 This is the way the world ends
 Not with a bang but a whimper.

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