After many months of preparation a team of researchers from the Environmental Protection Clinic of Yale University Law School has been conducting a series of meetings in Greece, over the past few days, in order to complete the file upon this case. The team of researchers from Yale’s Law School, said to be one of the best in the world, has been working in close collaboration with Archipelagos regarding the matter of the Sea Diamond and will submit concrete proposals within the next few days. These proposals will highlight the fact that under Greek, European and further international legislation the wreck must be removed from its current location.
The data that has so far been collected shows that there is no other choice except to salvage the shipwreck. This is something that Archipelagos, who has been involved with the case from early on, the islands’ inhabitants as well as anyone offended by such a situation in Greece, has been striving from day one.
During the time that the research was being conducted by the law team from Yale, an appeal was made at the State Council for the salvage of the ship. Archipelagos, the local organizations and residents who filed the appeal relied on the Greek and international law, which obligates the Greek government to restore the damage caused to the marine environment, even if the responsible parties obstruct this process. The appeal stated that no responsible government agency has taken the necessary measures in order to salvage the ship. This is despite the proposals that have been created by domestic and foreign firms regarding the cost of salvaging the «Sea Diamond». Currently, despite the threat of a major oil or fuel leak we also have to mention that the ship’s prolonged presence in the seabed poses a major threat to the marine environment due to the ships general deterioration.
The gradual erosion of the metal structure and the release of toxic substances trapped in the ship (pipes, metal containers, bunkers, electrical appliances, etc.) mentioned in the appeal, have been mentioned by Archipelagos from the day that the «Sea Diamond» sunk. This common sense certainty, which sparked a series of threats against Archipelagos during the previous years, has since been confirmed by environmental impact assessments conducted by the Department of Management of Toxic and Hazardous Waste from the Technical University of Crete. The results of which were recently presented on the island of Santorini. Constant spills of oil and toxic substances, high concentrations of heavy metals in shellfish and fish in the surrounding area and the increased risk of displacement of the shipwreck, bearing in mind its position on a rocky area of the seabed, are just some of the conclusions of the study.
Archipelagos, which has repeatedly clashed with the interests of the shipping company and the politicians who have so far only come up with empty promises in regards to when they are going to salvage the ship, will continue its efforts at a research and legal level until the Sea Diamond is back above water.
With the involvement of Yale’s law team, which has made an essential contribution in solving environmental problems around the world, the case has become an international one. Their help has been invaluable in this case and we hope that they will aid us in solving numerous environmental problems in Greece.
Apart from the legal dimensions this mater has taken, during April we expect further developments on a research level as well.