Costa Crociere, the municipality of Giglio Island and the Costa Concordia Emergency Commissioner’s Office have announced that the operations to remove the fuel from the Costa Concordia are going to be completed by Friday, March 23.
Defueling, which was carried out by experts from the Neri/Smit Salvage team hired by Costa Crociere, began at 5 pm on February 12 and continued around the clock whenever the sea and weather conditions were favorable.
The removal of the oil from 17 tanks of the ship will be completed by Friday night, according to Costa. The defueling Operation has been performed using a system of pumps and valves. Basically, “hot tap” valves were attached to the side of the ship, a hole was drilled into the tank and a pipeline was attached. This enabled the oil to be heated and pumped out while sea water was pumped in so as to maintain the ship’s stability. Small amounts of fuel cannot be pumped out from the bulkheads of the tanks; but they are in such small quantities as to pose no significant environmental risk, the company stated.
“After the tragic incident involving the Costa Concordia,” said Costa President Gianni Onorato, “we took immediate action in order to guarantee the least possible environmental impact and protect the environment of Giglio and the island’s economy and tourism industry, working in full cooperation with the Emergency Commissioner’s Office and the Municipality of Giglio. We appointed the world’s leading salvage company to carry out the defueling operation, and this has been done successfully, preventing a potential ecological disaster. We are very pleased with this result, and we will continue to work with the same commitment during the next stages of the salvage mission; no effort will be spared until all the necessary work has been completed.”
The Mayor of Giglio Sergio Ortelli commented that daily analysis has confirmed that the waters are still crystalline.
Now that the oil has been successfully pumped out of the tanks, Costa said that attention is now focusing on the so-called “care-taking” operations. The intention is to guarantee environmental monitoring and protection with the assistance of experts using dedicated means and resources, and to clean up the seabed and the area around the hull. This, so-called care-taking will be conducted by Neri/Smit Salvage technical staff appointed by Costa Crociere and will last one or two months.
Costa made a multi-million euro investment for defueling operations, with the primary focus on removing the oil from the ship as quickly and cleanly as possible.
As already announced, as far as the removal of the ship is concerned, six working plans submitted by the March 3 deadline are currently being evaluated. A shortlist is being drawn up and a plan will be selected and announced in early to mid-April.
The operation to remove the wreck will be a particularly complex one and is expected to take from 10 to 12 months, depending on which tender is chosen.