After waiting for the search for survivors to end, then being forced to wait 2 more weeks during bad weather, the company hired to empty the fuel tanks of the Costa Concordia, has emptied two tanks in just two days.
Smit Salvage, a Dutch company hired to pump out the oil, had prepared six forward tanks of the ship with valves during the wait and are now pumping out oil at a fast rate. The Italian news agency, Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, which also publishes in English, quotes the head of the Livorno port authority, Ilarione Dell'Anna, who says the work is progressing well.
"The second tank containing 410 cubic metres of fuel was emptied at a speed of 8 cubic metres per hour. The third tank containing another 410 cubic metres of fuel is now being emptied," Dell'Anna said. "If the weather and sea conditions remain as good as in recent days the emptying of the first six tanks of the Costa Concordia will be completed in about three to four days."
500,000 gallons of oil on Costa Concordia
AGI then went on to say that after that "operations will stop to allow the flanging of the remaining nine tanks." There is no timetable set as to how long all of that will take but Smit Salvage has gone on record as saying that the entire operation should take 3 to 4 weeks. The work has gone quickly but there's been no word on whether that means, weather permitting, the operation may take less time than expected.
Some 500,000 gallons of oil was in the tanks of the 114,500 ton ship, 2,300 tonnes of heavy fuel and 200 tonnes of diesel fuel. The company said it intends to pump out the fuel "round the clock."
Oil Spill would endanger Marine Sanctuary
The waters surrounding the island of Giglio, where the ship lays on its side on a rocky ledge, are a part of the 'Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals' and home to dolphins, porpoises, fin whales, sperm whales, the giant tuna billfish, sharks and other marine life. An oil spill would wreak havoc on the sanctuary.
Seventeen bodies have been recovered from the ship and surrounding waters 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. The ship went down on Jan. 13.