Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Cleaning Venice

Porto Marghera, which shares its waters with Venice's canals, is due for a €72million clean-up campaign Porto Marghera, which shares its waters with Venice's canals, is due for a €72million clean-up campaign Mark Caunt
25 Mar
2017
After years of inaction, could the clean-up of the Venice lagoon finally be underway?

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.

This roughly 19 km2 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.

After years of heel-dragging, an attempted clean-up is finally beginning, albeit slowly. €72million was recently allocated by environment minister Gian Luca Galletti to construct more than three kilometres of embankments to contain the polluted waters. However, it is widely acknowledged that this funding is insufficient. ‘The €72million is not for cleaning up Porto Marghera; that amount would not be enough,’ says Mannino.

Estimates say that a total of €250million would be necessary for finishing the containment works

Following the theoretical containing of the Porto Marghera site, attention could then potentially turn to cleaning up the 500 km2 Venice lagoon itself, a process which existing efforts have barely touched upon. ‘After the containment, the real remediation of the sites should start, for which a much higher amount of money will be needed,’ adds Mannino.

This was published in the April 2017 edition of Geographical magazine.

Related items

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe to Geographical!

University of Winchester

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Human Game – Tackling football’s ‘slave trade’
    Few would argue with football’s position as the world’s number one sport. But as Mark Rowe discovers, this global popularity is masking a sinister...
    Essential oil?
    Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many circles it is considered the scourge of the natural world, for the deforestation and habita...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    The true cost of meat
    As one of the world’s biggest methane emitters, the meat industry has a lot more to concern itself with than merely dietary issues ...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PLACES...

Deserts

An evening discussing Oman’s hidden conservation heritage. Fifty Geographical readers…

Deserts

Biosphere 2 was one of the most ambitious experiments in…

Forests

High-quality, affordable drones can revolutionise the way that landscape and…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig charts the impact of volcanoes on nearby human…

Mapping

A volunteer-led digital mapping project is at the heart of…

Cities

As the planet urbanises, attention is turning towards the most…

Forests

Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many…

Cities

A rising number of cruise ships and their ‘overlooked’ diesel…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig charts the growth and impact of the world’s…

Deserts

Long-term studies reveal the Sahara desert has expanded substantially over…

Water

South America’s wealthiest economy is at a crossroads between environmental…

Forests

The European Court of Justice finds the logging of a…

Mountains

In this extract from his new book, Tides, mountain climber…

Cities

New data from the World Health Organization reveals that nine…

Water

In the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan,…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig maps out the global production and distribution levels…

Water

Millions of Americans are living in areas at high-risk of…

Mapping

New interactive maps combine precipitation and temperature to show climate…

Cities

Public transport in India could be on the verge of…

Water

To retrace the route of the fur voyageurs on the waterways…