Italian authorities have given the go-ahead for salvage experts to begin removing the oil from the capsized cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, among fears that the damaged ship might spill the thick fuel into the surrounding waters. The cruise ship contains about 2,380 tonnes of oil across 17 double-bottomed tanks; if this is released into the sea, it would mark the worst environmental disaster to hit Italy in at least two decades.
Now that it has been determined that the ship is barely moving and therefore isn’t at much risk to roll off the rocky ledge it’s sitting upon and disappear under the water, officials have approved a plan that will allow for both rescue efforts and fuel draining to happen simultaneously. Already there was been some minor contamination from diesel, detergents and disinfectants that were being carried aboard the ship, although Italian authorities say the levels aren’t high enough to be a real concern.
In addition to beginning to remove the toxic fuel as early as tomorrow, crews have also laid down about eight kilometres of barriers to contain the oil and keep it from escaping into a larger area. The body of water located off the coast of the Tuscan island of Giglio is a prime fishing location and also contains a sanctuary for whales and dolphins.