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article imagePumping oil from sunken cruise ship to continue 'round the clock'

By Marcus Hondro     Feb 13, 2012 in World
Smit Salvage, the Dutch company hired to extract the fuel from the Italian cruise liner 'The Costa Concordia,' began doing so Sunday and said that while the weather holds they will continue "round the clock." So far, the removal operation is going well.
"Yesterday afternoon, at 16.55, the first oil was removed from the Costa Concordia," the company's website said. "The initial operation is focused on the forward fuel tanks. Currently four of the six forward fuel tanks have now been installed with a seal-able flange. As operations continue, the remaining tanks will also be prepared.
"The first tank which was connected to the pumps is relatively small and located on the port side of the Costa Concordia," Smit Salvage added. "The weather forecast for the coming days looks good and pumping will continue around the clock as long as the favorable conditions continue."
Danger of oil spill from Costa Concordia
Smit Salvage has said it may take up to one month or more to extract all 2,300 tonnes of heavy fuel and 200 tonnes of diesel fuel from the 114,500 ton liner. There is concern the job may be complicated due to the ship shifting. During the recent period of bad weather, which delayed the start by two weeks, the Concordia did shift slightly, but not enough to jeopardize operations.
The Costa Concordia came to rest on a 'reef ledge' and were the liner to drop off that ledge to the sea floor 290 feet below, fuel tanks could rupture, spilling 500,000 gallons of oil. The instability of the ship was a reason they did not begin extracting fuel while divers were searching for bodies in the 2 weeks immediately after the disaster as the extracting may cause shifting that could have endangered divers.
Mediterranean Marine Sanctuary
The waters that surround the island of Giglio are a part of the 'Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals' and the home to all manner of marine life, including dolphins, porpoises, fin whales, sperm whales, the giant tuna billfish and sharks. Thus far tests have indicated that there has not been any contamination of the waters.
To date, 17 bodies have been recovered from the ship and another 15 people are missing and presumed deceased. The captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest in his home near Naples, charged with multiple offences including manslaughter and abandoning his ship in distress before all passengers were evacuated.
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