Costa Concordia defuelling operation to be completed on Friday 23 March
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 due to be completed on Friday 23 March.
Defueling, which was carried out by experts from the Neri/Smit Salvage team hired by Costa Crociere, began at 5pm on 12 February and continued around the clock whenever the sea and weather conditions were favorable.
The removal of the oil from 17 tanks of the ship is expected to be completed during the night of Friday 23 March.
The removal has been performed using a system of pumps and valves. “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. Minimal physiological 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.
Once the oil has been successfully pumped out of the tanks and ahead of finalization of the wreck removal plan, attention will focus on the caretaking 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. Caretaking will be conducted once again by Neri/Smit Salvage technical staff appointed by Costa Crociere and will last one to two months.
With regard to the removal of the ship, the six working plans submitted by the 3 March deadline are currently being evaluated. A shortlist is being drawn up and the best plan will be selected and announced in early to mid-April.
All the plans submitted are of a very high standard and all prioritize the need to minimize the environmental impact, protect Giglio’s economy and tourism industry, and guarantee safety.
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.