Cleaning Up Sinking Concordia Cruise Ship Oil

 

The Concordia rammed a reef Jan. 13 on the tiny Tuscan island and capsized a few hours later just outside Giglio’s port with 4,200 passengers and crew aboard for a Mediterranean cruise. Experts can begin pumping fuel from a capsized cruise ship to avert a possible environmental catastrophe and the ship is stable enough to let search efforts go on for those still missing, Italian officials said. The decision to carry out both operations was made after instrument readings determined that the Costa Concordia did not risk sliding into a deeper seabed. The ship is stable. .There is no problem or danger that it is about to drop onto much lower seabed. Without interruptions, the clean up could take 28 days. Already, some diesel and lubricants have leaked into the water near the ship, probably from machinery on board. Officials have characterized the contamination as superficial.

Fuel removal will address growing concern among residents and environmentalists that the heavy, tar-like fuel could leak from the ship’s 17 double-bottomed tanks. Officials said the first tank to be emptied will be one above the waterline. Eight kilometers (five miles) of oil barriers, including absorbent ones, have been laid to protect marine life and the coastline in the pristine waters off Giglio, which are prime fishing grounds and a protected area for dolphins and whales. Recovery experts from the Dutch salvage company Smit have previously said they will create holes in the top and the bottom of each tank, heating the fuel so it flows more easily and pumping from the top while forcing air in from the bottom. For the underwater tanks, sea water will be used to displace the fuel, which becomes thick and gooey when cooled. Besides 2,200 metric tons of heavier fuel, there also are 185 metric tons of diesel and lubricants on board – some dispersed in machinery and lifeboats, and not in 17 double-bottomed tanks that hold most of the fuel – in addition to chemicals including cleaning products and chlorine.

via HuffingtonPost