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article imageSalvage crews prepare to pump out fuel from Costa Concordia

By Marcus Hondro     Jan 20, 2012 in Environment
A Dutch salvage company is on scene at the Italian island of Giglio of the Tuscan coast, ready to pump out more than 2,300 tonnes of heavy fuel and 200 tonnes of diesel oil.
“We’re ready to begin the operation," Rene Robben from the Dutch company Smit Salvage told AFP in a recent interview. "We were ready yesterday but we’re still waiting for the green light from the authorities. Now we’re just fine-tuning the instruments."
Avoiding environmental disaster on Giglio
To make the situation worse, the ship capsized in Europe's largest marine sanctuary and along with pristine waters and shorelines, there are dolphins, porpoises, whales and other sea life.
Local residents and environmentalists are concerned the situation is an environmental disaster in the waiting. But there is good news.
"The fuel tanks have not been breached. There's no oil leaking out of the ship," another employee of Smit Salvage, Martijn Schuttevaer, told AFP. He added that once given the green light to extract the fuel they could, depending on weather and the condition of the ship, do so in "three to four weeks."
The operation they would undertake is called "hot-tapping" and would destabilize the ship further, the company said. Before that could be allowed to happen the Italian officials in charge of rescue operations must be satisfied there is no longer a chance of finding anyone survivors and call off the rescue.
Relatives of missing arrive on Giglio
As of today, 21 people were still unaccounted for. Relatives of the missing have arrived on Giglio looking for information and holding out hope their loved ones might yet be found alive. But hopes are dimming and an official, who asked not to be named, told AFP they "will probably make the decision on whether or not to call off the search" at a meeting that same day.
Meanwhile, as the ship continues to slip off the rocky coastline at a rate of about 1.5 centimetres-an-hour, there is talk of officials considering attaching giant cables to the Costa Concordia to keep her from fully submerging.
Those details have not been confirmed and are, reports say, dependent on whether they can determine that such a procedure would be certain to work. A remote-controlled robot has been sent into the waters to help make that determination.
More about Costa Concordia, Fuel, Ship, Cruise ship, Italy
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