GIGLIO, Italy -- Preliminary actions were made for the removal of fuel from the capsized Costa Concordia Tuesday. Half a million gallons are to be extracted from the cruise ship before it leaks into the Tuscan Sea.
Fuel extraction is expected to begin Saturday by Smit, the Dutch shipwreck salvage firm, reported the Star Tribune. On Tuesday teams hitched the bow of the vessel to a barge and began underwater inspections to locate six of the ships fuel tanks.
Franco Gabrielli, head of the national civil protection agency, said that once the initial six tanks are emptied, 50 percent of the fuel aboard the ship will have been extracted.
Pumping will continue 24 hours a day barring rough seas or technical glitches, said Gabrielli, noting that these six tanks are relatively easy to access.
Preparations for drilling continued Tuesday amid the discovery of very thin oil slick. As reported by the Washington Post, the specific origin of the oil was unknown but absorbent booms placed around the hull and surrounding areas were trapping it.
Officials said that there was not significant levels of toxicity present.
"At this stage we don't see a big risk in an oil spill," said Bart Huizing, head of operations at Smit, "but if weather deteriorates nobody can tell what the vessel will do."