A thin film of oil spread from the Costa Concordia cruise ship as waves battered its wreckage off Italy’s coast Wednesday, adding to fears of an environmental disaster in the area’s sensitive, pristine waters. Authorities were trying to assess how serious and extensive the spread was.
A crack also appeared Wednesday between two large glass panels that formed part of the roof of the Costa Concordia. The film of oil was spreading from a separate part of the ship, apparently the stern.
The ship contains about 500,000 gallons (2,400 tons) of heavy fuel and other pollutants, and fears have grown that those chemicals could damage an environment that is home to dolphins, whales and other marine life.
Italian authorities are hoping to pump fuel from the ship, but due to bad weather (rough seas and strong wind) the effort was being suspended again. Floating barriers placed around the Costa Concordia to protect the water were lifted by strong wind, allowing oil from the engine to spread throughout the bay. The operation has been assigned to SMIT Salvage and its partner Fratelli Neri, which provided a technical briefing on the oil removal operation but then were stopped by unfavourable weather conditions.
The Italian Port Authority said the leak consisted of a thin film of hydrocarbons. A spokeswoman for Italy National Civil Protection, in charge of the rescue effort, said it wasn’t yet clear how serious the situation is.
Costa Concordia continued to shift on its rocky perch, moving 7.5 centimeters (3 inches) in seven hours: there are fears that movement of the wreck could damage the tanks holding the 500,000 gallons fuel.
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