Popular holiday island ‘heading for disaster’ due to sunken cruise ship

Locals fear a ship that sunk off the coast of Greek island Santorini is pumping toxic waste into the sea.

Popular holiday island ‘heading for disaster’ due to sunken cruise ship
Cruise ship
The shipwreck has been left to rot under the sea since 2007 (Picture: Reuters/Getty)

A sunken shipwreck is threatening a popular holiday island as campaigners say it’s polluting the environment surrounding it.

The cruise ship, which sunk off the coast of the Greek island of Santorini in 2007, was left to rot under the sea for years.

And now experts fear the MS Sea Diamond is releasing toxic waste into the water which could affect the holiday hotspot.

Two passengers died when the 22,000-ton cruise ship sunk off the coast of the Greek island nearly 17 years ago.

Local people have been fighting for years to get the wreckage removed, worried about the consequences of the pollution caused by the ship’s fuel tanks.

And residents have this week demanded the necessary and immediate removal of the ship in a letter to the Greek Parliament’s Special Standing Committee for Environmental Protection.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Sipa/REX/Shutterstock (655236a) A picture by one of the Spanish tourists aboard the Greek cruise ship 'Sea Diamond' shows the cruise ship listing heavily after striking rocks off the Greek island of Santorini. The 'Sea Diamond' sank 15 hours after the accident occurred. The evacuation of passengers from the Greek cruise ship 'Sea Diamond', Santorini, Greece - 05 Apr 2007
The ‘Sea Diamond’ sunk after hitting a rock (Picture: Sipa/REX/Shutterstock)
SANTORINI, GREECE: This picture taken on board marine research vessel Phylia 11 April 2007, shows the hull of the sunken Sea Diamond cruise ship at a depth of 107 meters, filmed by a remote operated vehicle (ROV), off the island of Santorini, . Two French tourists are missing and nearly 1,600 people were rescued after the vessel hit rocks and sank near the holiday island. AFP PHOTO /Thanassis Stavrakis/ POOL (Photo credit should read THANASSIS STAVRAKIS/AFP via Getty Images)
The shipwreck has laid on the sea bed since 2007 (Picture: THANASSIS STAVRAKIS/AFP)

The letter read: ‘The shipwreck remains on the seabed and continues to pollute, at a slow but steady rate, it erodes daily and at any time it can cause an incalculable ecological disaster.’

But so far local authorities have failed to salvage the shipwreck.

It’s causing a long-running dispute on the island, which could spell disaster for the future of Santorini.

Campaigners told The Sun that the popular island is ‘heading for disaster’ if something isn’t done soon to tackle the wreckage.

They added that the government has ‘failed the community’ and the lack of action may lead to an environmental disaster.

There are fears that toxic waste could spill out of the sunken ship and poison Santorini’s coastlines, which would make it dangerous for people to go to the beaches and swim in the sea.

The shipwreck contains huge volumes of motor fuel and lubricants as well as hundreds of litres of battery electrolytes.

It also contains copper cables, toxic heavy metals and other dangerous chemicals.

Experts say it could take up to 400 years for all of these pollutants to fully decompose.

Now they have called the island a ‘ticking time bomb’ as the wreck could cause a catastrophic event impacting the popular destination.

The listing Greek-flagged cruise ship Sea Diamond, carrying nearly 1,200 passengers and some 400 crew, is surrounded by rescue vessels at the old port on the Greek island of Santorini April 5, 2007. REUTERS/Dimitris Prassos (GREECE)
The ship had 1,200 passengers and 400 crew on board (Picture: REUTERS)

Loucas Lignos said: ‘All these carcinogenic substances are dangerous for humans. At the same time, desalination procedures cannot filter through the dangerous heavy metals.

‘The main problem is that these chemicals can enter the human body through bioaccumulation – either via desalination of the water or by fish consumption.

‘If that happens it will be a huge environmental disaster for the Santorini beaches.’

The wreckage is around 800m from the port and around 100m underwater.

The ship, owned by Louis Hellenic Cruises, sunk on April 5, 2007, on a reef. It was carrying 1,195 passengers at the time.

Most of the people on board, who were mostly Americans and Canadians, were safely rescued but a French dad and his teenage daughter died.

The bodies of Jean Christophe Allain, 45, and his 16-year-old daughter Maud were never found.

In the months immediately after the wreckage there was an attempt made to decontaminate the waters around it.

This was followed by an unsuccessful effort to sort the problem with a pumping operation.

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