Magazine article Geographical

Cleaning Venice: After Years of Inaction, Could the Clean-Up of the Venice Lagoon Finally Be Underway?

Magazine article Geographical

Cleaning Venice: After Years of Inaction, Could the Clean-Up of the Venice Lagoon Finally Be Underway?

Article excerpt

Unfortunately for the grandiose basilicas and romantic canals amid the 118 islands of Venice, Italy--described by UNESCO as 'an extraordinary architectural masterpiece... one of the greatest capitals in the medieval world'--they share their lagoon with Porto Marghera, roughly four miles away on the mainland.

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This roughly 19 sq km industrial park, which includes various oil refineries and chemical plants, spent much of the last century using the lagoon as a way of disposing of waste products. In 1998, it was consequently added to a high priority list of siti d'interesse nazionale (sites of national interest) recognising the need to pay special attention to the environmental state of the park.

'The list includes those sites in Italy where contamination levels or chemical, physical, or biological alterations of soil, subsoil, surface water or groundwater pose a risk for public health or for the natural or built environment' explains Ilda Mannino, scientific coordinator at Venice International University. As a result, traditional long-term Venetian concerns over a city that has been slowly sinking have been combined with fears of severe chemical water contamination in the iconic canals, as well as the negative effects on the ecological state of the lagoon. …

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