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European Commission asks Italy to strengthen laws on environmental liability

Italy has to reply within two months The Commission is concerned that Italy has incorrectly implemented EU legislation on environmental liability, leading to insufficient protection for Italian citizens. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is sending Italy an additional reasoned opinion to ask it to adjust its national legislation accordingly. If Italy fails to reply within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the European Court of Justice.The Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) establishes a legal framework for environmental liability based on the "polluter pays" principle, with the aim of preventing and remedying environmental damage. Natural and legal persons who operate or control activities listed in the Directive are strictly liable for the damage they cause to the environment through their activity. Such damage includes damage to water bodies, protected species or natural habitats, or soil.While many provisions of the Directive have been transposed correctly, the Commission has particular concerns about the absence of strict liability, and the possibility open to operators of using financial compensation rather than remediation. For instance, Italian legislation lacks provisions which should oblige operators in a number of activities to remedy environmental damage they have generated even if they are ...

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Cruise ship captain admits mistake in deposition

Sixteen still missing from the roughly 4,200 people aboard Costa Concordia In his answers to prosecutors, defense attorneys and a judge, the captain of the ill-fated cruise ship Costa Concordia admitted he made a "mistake" in colliding with rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.However, in statements made during a phone conversation with a friend earlier this month, Capt. Francesco Schettino said managers pressured him to steer the ship to the area where the collision occurred, two Italian newspapers reported Wednesday.Both Costa Cruises and authorities have criticized Schettino's behavior. He is under house arrest and faces possible charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship when the vessel struck rocks and rolled over onto its side in the waters off the island on January 13.A 16th body was found Tuesday on the ship. Sixteen others are missing from the roughly 4,200 people aboard the cruise liner -- 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members -- at the time of the collision."I hit this projection of rock, that seems almost stuck into the ship, but this was my mistake," Schettino said in the 126-page transcript. "... There isn't anything I can say, as I was convinced that passing within .28 of a mile ...

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Workers to pump oil from Costa Concordia on Saturday

To remove a half-million gallons of fuel from the grounded cruise ship A barge carrying a crane and other equipment hitched itself to the toppled Costa Concordia on Tuesday, signaling the start of preliminary operations to remove a half-million gallons of fuel from the grounded cruise ship before it leaks into the pristine Tuscan sea.Actual pumping of the oil isn't expected to begin until Saturday, but teams from the Dutch shipwreck salvage firm Smit were working on the bow of the Concordia on Tuesday and divers were to make underwater inspections to identify the precise locations of the fuel tanks.They were at work on the now-hitched Meloria barge as divers who blasted through a submerged section of the third-floor deck located another body from the wreckage, bringing the death toll to 16.The Concordia ran aground and capsized off the Tuscan island of Giglio on Jan. 13 after the captain veered from his approved course and gashed the ship's hull on a reef, forcing the panicked evacuation of 4,200 passengers and crew.The 16 bodies found so far include the one located on the third-floor deck Tuesday. Seven of the badly decomposed bodies remain unidentified and are presumed to be among some ...

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2 more cruise bodies found, oil pumping to begin

Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Tragedy Salvage experts can begin pumping fuel from a capsized cruise ship as early as Tuesday to avert a possible environmental catastrophe and the ship is stable enough that search efforts for the missing can continue, Italian officials said.The decision to carry out both operations in tandem was made after instrument readings determined that the Costa Concordia was not at risk of sliding into deeper waters, Franco Gabrielli, chief of the national civil protection agency, told reporters Monday on the island of Giglio."The ship is stable. ... There is no problem or danger that it is about to drop onto much lower seabed," Gabrielli said.The Concordia rammed a reef Jan. 13 on the tiny Tuscan island and capsized a few hours later just outside Giglio's port as it carried 4,200 passengers and crew on a Mediterranean cruise.Taking advantage of calm seas, divers on Monday found the bodies of two women near the ship's Internet cafe, raising to 15 the number of confirmed dead.There are 17 people still unaccounted for, but Gabrielli has said an unregistered Hungarian woman might have been aboard ship. The woman's relatives have told Italian authorities they haven't heard from her since she ...

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Marine Paradise Threatened By Cruise Ship

2,400 tons of heavy fuel oil is in danger of leaking out Stone fortresses and watchtowers that centuries ago stood guard against marauding pirates loom above pristine waters threatened by a modern peril: fuel trapped within the capsized Costa Concordia luxury liner.A half-million gallons (2,400 tons) of heavy fuel oil is in danger of leaking out and polluting some of the Mediterranean's most unspoiled sea, where dolphins chase playfully after sailboats and fishermen's catches are so prized that wholesalers come from across Italy to scoop up cod, lobster, scampi, swordfish and other delicacies."Even the Caribbean has nothing on us," said Francesco Arpino, a scuba instructor in the chic port of Porto Ercole, noting how the sleek granite sea bottom helps keep visibility crystal clear even 135 feet (40 meters) down.Divers in these transparent waters marvel at an underwater world of sea horses and red coral, while on the surface sperm whales cut through the sea.But worry is clouding this paradise, which includes a stretch of Tuscan coastline that has been the holiday haunt of soccer and screen stars, politicians and European royals.Rough seas hindering divers' search for bodies in the Concordia's submerged section have also delayed the start of a ...

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Italians want ban on liners too close to shore

Not passing too close to islands or shorelines, or entering delicate areas such as the Venice lagoon Thinking of taking a cruise to view Italy's islands from close up, or admire the Doge's Palace in Venice while sipping a glass of wine on deck? In the wake of the Costa Concordia disaster, you had better bring your binoculars so you can see from afar.Italian environmentalists and some politicians are demanding that big cruise ships be banned from passing too close to islands or shorelines, or entering delicate areas such as the Venice lagoon.Prosecutors say Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Concordia, steered the ship to within 150 metres of the shore of the island of Giglio on the night of January 13, to make a "salute" to the islanders, who included a retired admiral, and give the passengers a close-up view.The giant ship, a floating pleasure palace of bars, spas, state rooms and tennis courts, capsized after striking a rock as dinner was being served."I hope there will be no more 'salutes', either on the island of Giglio or any other island by any captain," lawmaker Mario Valducci told the lower house of parliament during a special session on the ...

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Italy cruise ship owners unaware of dangerous practice

Captain of the Costa Concordia steered the ship too close to the Tuscan island of Giglio The owners of the doomed Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia were not aware of unsafe practices involving ships coming close to shore to give tourists a better view, Costa Cruises chief executive Pier Luigi Foschi told a newspaper on Friday.Investigators say the captain of the Costa Concordia steered the ship too close to the Tuscan island of Giglio, where the 114,500 tonne vessel ran aground and capsized last week, apparently while performing a manoeuvre known as a "salute" which took it within 150 metres of the shore.Foschi told the Corriere della Sera that ships sometimes passed near to shore during what he termed "tourist navigation" but he said this was always performed safely and he denied that the company knew the Concordia would be going so close.He said the Concordia's onboard newspaper had announced that the ship would pass five miles from Giglio."I can't rule out that individual captains, without informing us, may have set a course closer to land. However I can rule out ever having known that they may have done it unsafely," he said.Doubts have already been expressed about whether Costa ...

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Cruise ship search suspended off Italy

Costa Concordia shifted again on its rocky perch The cruise ship grounded off Tuscany has shifted again on its rocky perch, forcing the suspension of diving search operations for the 21 people still missing and raising concerns about the stability of the ship's resting place.It was not clear if the slight movements registered on Friday by sensors placed on board the Costa Concordia were just vibrations as the ship settles on the rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio or if the massive ocean liner is slowly slipping off the reef.The sensors detected that the ship's bow was moving about 15mm an hour and the stern about 7mm an hour, said Nicola Casagli of the University of Florence, who has been called in by Italian authorities to monitor the ship's stability. The Concordia's movements are being watched since any significant shift could be dangerous for divers trying to locate those still missing after the Concordia ran aground on January 13. An additional fear is that movement could damage tanks holding a half-million gallons of fuel oil and lead to leaks.The sea floor drops off sharply a few meters from where the ship is resting, and Italy's environment minister has warned ...

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What Will The Disaster Mean For The Mediterranean?

Costa Concordia Environmental Impact As Italian rescue crews dealt with a major cruise ship wreck Tuesday, the tragedy of missing persons and rising casualties from the Costa Concordia were not their only concerns.The ship, which is foundering within Italy's largest protected marine area, also contains several thousand gallons of heavy fuel oil and diesel.Officials in the area say that a potential fuel spill from the ship "would be a disaster," reports BBC News.The waters and Tuscan Archipelago near the wrecked ship contain rare and important plants and animals, including the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal.So far, no fuel has spilled from the wreck and officials are racing to keep it that way. According to The Guardian, booms have been staged around the wreck and a Dutch salvage firm has been hired to extract the ship's fuel.The salvage team may begin inspecting the ship on Wednesday and, according to The Washington Post, complete the fuel extraction within two to four weeks.The Washington Post reports the salvage company's manager of operations, Kees van Essen, said "The vessel is stable and we feel confident that removal can be done in a fairly rapid way." He added that a salvage operation won't "increase the ...

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‘Get back on ship’, Coast Guard told cruise captain

Schettino was repeatedly refusing to return to the sinking vessel A frantic Coast Guard officer berated the captain of the capsized Costa Concordia as he sat safe in a life raft, refusing to return to his ship and direct the evacuation order."You go on board! Is that clear? Do you hear me?" the Coast Guard officer shouted at Capt. Francesco Schettino."It is an order. Don't make any more excuses. You have declared 'Abandon ship.' Now I am in charge."A damning recording of Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco shouting at Schettino to return to the ship was posted online Tuesday by Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra. The Coast Guard authenticated the recording.In the radio exchange, Schettino can be heard repeatedly refusing to return to the sinking vessel from a lifeboat to help co-ordinate the frantic evacuation."I am here with the rescue boats. I am here. I am not going anywhere. I am here," he said. "I am here to co-ordinate the rescue.""What are you co-ordinating there? Go on board! Coordinate the rescue from aboard the ship. Are you refusing?" came the response from De Falco."You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are. Is ...

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