Cleanup of the Costa Concordia accident is expected to continue this week with the removal of the 500,000 gallons of fuel that is on the ship. Costa is trying to avoid an environmental nightmare if the fuel begins to leak into waters off the Tuscan coast. There is a barge attached to the ship that will pump the fuel out of the cruise ship as long as the weather permits. The area has recently been hit with high winds and rough seas.
The Dutch company Smit and Neri has been given the task of removing the fuel from the 15 tanks that are on the cruise ship. It is expected to take up to a month to pump all of the fuel out of the Concordia. The process involves attaching valves to the tanks so hoses can pump the oil out. The cold water of the Tuscan sea has made the oil thicker so it must be heated up to give it better flow through the hoses. There have not been any reports of major leakage of fuel, just small traces.
The majority of the fuel is in the front six tanks of the ship. If the harsh weather holds off, they expect to have those emptied within a week so they can concentrate on the tanks that are less at risk to spill into the sea.
Costa currently is accepting bids to get the ship out of the water and into dry dock so repairs can be made. Officials have said that it could take 10-12 months to get the ship removed from the reef.
The recovery team has found the 17th victim from the accident. She was identified as Erika Soria Molina, a crew member from Peru. There are still 15 passengers and crew members that are missing and unaccounted for.
A memorial service was held for the victims on Sunday in Rome, Italy as Italy’s president asked for justice and for the truth of the accident to come out. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco stated, “Let the light of the Lord help bring about truth and justice, let wounds be healed and let trust and courage for the future be reinforced”. There is another memorial service planned for Monday to remember the lives that were lost 1 month ago.
The captain, Francesco Schettino, is still under house arrest and faces charges of manslaughter, abandoning ship, and causing a shipwreck. He is reported to have evacuated the ship before all the passengers and crew were safety off board. Many passengers have described the evacuation process as a chaotic nightmare. CLIA and 2 other large cruise associations have changed the muster drill requirements for cruise ships in light of the accident.