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article imageBad weather delays Costa Concordia fuel salvaging

By Marcus Hondro     Jan 29, 2012 in Environment
Bad weather on Saturday forced Smit Salvage, the Dutch company contracted to pump out the 2,300 tonnes of heavy fuel and 200 tonnes of diesel oil from the Costa Concordia, to delay the start of the operation.
The company held a press conference on the island of Giglio off the Tuscan coast to walk the media through the 'hot-tapping' methods they will use to pump the fuel from the ship. Once the conference was completed the intention was to begin the salvage operations. They were not able do do so.
"Whilst the expectation was that the oil removal process would commence shortly after the press conference, operations were suspended on Saturday morning due to unfavorable weather conditions," an update posted on their website reads. "Weather permitting, we look forward to completing the preparations on the forward fuel tanks and commencing with the oil removal as soon as possible."
European Marine Sanctuary
To date, Smit Salvage divers have affixed valves on 4 of the 6 outer tanks of the ship and the intention was to affix valves on the other two and begin pumping out the fuel on Saturday. Much of the fuel is in those tanks but there are inner tanks and once they've emptied the outer tanks they will begin work on those tanks.
The salvage company said there has been no leakage to date. Concern about a major oil spill is high because the area is part of Europe's largest marine sanctuary and along with pristine waters and shorelines, there are dolphins, porpoises, whales and other sea life.
Smit Salvage arrived on the scene in the days following the Jan. 13 tragedy, which took the lives of some 32 people. They did not start pumping out the fuel earlier because rescue operations were still ongoing and they could not risk destabilizing the ship. Seventeen bodies after been recovered thus far.
More about Costa Concordia, italian shipo sunken off giglio, Smit Salvage, hottapping
 
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