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The “Sea Diamond” shipwreck: environmental impact assessment in the water column and sediments of the wreck area

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In the “Sea Diamond” shipwreck, it is estimated that almost 1.7 tons of batteries/accumulators and approximately 150 cathode ray tube technology televisions have gone to the bottom of the sea. Under these circumstances, all the aforementioned materials will eventually undergo severe accelerated corrosion. Consequently, a variety of heavy metals will either be released in seawater or precipitate in the form of salts resulting in contamination of the sea sediments. According to the ship data, and the aforementioned quantities of batteries and televisions, it is estimated that approximately 75–80 g of mercury, 630–1,050 g of cadmium and 1.14–1.26 tons of lead exist in the wreck only due to the electrical and electronic equipment present in the ship, not to mention the significant amount of heavy metals such as copper, nickel, ferrous and chromium that exist in the hulk. Four series of seawater sampling (n = 85) were conducted in different stations surrounding the wreck area in order to assess the overall impact from the release of heavy metals in the surrounding aquatic environment. The analysis indicated that there were stations where lead, zinc and cadmium were present in concentrations higher than the permissible limits set by the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency for seawater. Furthermore, the analysis of three series of sediment sampling (n = 31) from the wreck area showed elevated but expected concentration values for ferrous and manganese, considering the geological background of the area and contamination with lead, copper and cadmium.

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This work was financially supported by the South Aegean Region and is gratefully acknowledged for this. The authors would also like to thank, for their dedication and cooperation for more than 2 years, all the scientists in Technical University of Crete and the colleagues of Laboratory of Toxic and Hazardous Waste management in TUC who were involved in the project of reporting and evaluating the current and long-term impacts of “Sea Diamond” shipwreck in the Caldera of Santorini, Greece.

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Correspondence to E. Gidarakos.

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Dimitrakakis, E., Hahladakis, J. & Gidarakos, E. The “Sea Diamond” shipwreck: environmental impact assessment in the water column and sediments of the wreck area. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 11, 1421–1432 (2014).

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