Seas At Risk member organisation and Italy’s largest environmental group Legambiente, has raised concerns about potential ecological damage in waters surrounding the stricken Costa Concordia cruise vessel as the removal of on-board fuel begins

The vessel, owned by a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Lines, hit rocks off the coast of Tuscany on January 13 with around 2,500 tonnes of heavy fuel oil (HFO) on board. HFO is the dirtiest of marine fuels and poses huge risks to wildlife in the event of a spill.

The removal of the fuel has only just commenced and has been delayed by both the search and rescue operations and poor weather.

Legambiente has called for better protection of the fragile and sensitive coastline where the vessel crashed. The vessel lies within the Tuscan Archipelago National Park which is one of Europe's biggest marine parks with a protected sea area of 56,800 hectares of sea.

However, Legambiente has said that the marine park does not receive the sort of protection it deserves and that the costs associated with a major oil spill from the ship would be incalculable in the National Park.

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