Genoa’s 3-part Plan for the “Costa Concordia”

Genoa - Genoa’s proposal for the “Concordia” is an ecological demolitionin three steps. It is in three steps to avoid spillage into the water and to get past the problem of the sea floor being too shallow to allow a wreck to sail with 18.5 metres of its hull submerged, even when supported by caissons

di Samuele Cafasso

Genoa - Genoa’s proposal for the “Concordia” is an ecological demolition in three steps. It is in three steps to avoid spillage into the water and to get past the problem of the sea floor being too shallow to allow a wreck to sail with 18.5 metres of its hull submerged, even when supported by caissons.

In the next few days or perhaps weeks, Costa Crociere and its insurers will make a decision about which port will host what remains of the wreck still lying off the Island of Giglio.

Yesterday the Chief of Civil Defence, Franco Gabrielli, made it clear that the competition is now between Genoa and a Turkish port - unless more delays put Piombino back in the running.

The second port offers very low prices: about 40 million versus 100 million (including the tremendous transportation costs), according to Gabrielli. But the card that Genoa holds is not that of affordability, but rather the ecologically friendly work that Italy’s ports can offer. The plan combines the requests for the Environmental Impact Analysis presented to the Region, which MediTelegraph consulted, and ideas from the economic operators involved in the project.

In the first phase, which will last about two months, the ship will be accommodated in the Eastern corner of the Voltri breakwater. Depths in this area reach 21m, and this is where the first removal operations will be performed on the wreck: the interior furnishings and removable metallic parts will go first.

Since the hull should ride a bit higher in the water after this first phase, it will then be transferred to the area where the super-basin for naval repairs used to be located, in the Eastern industrial area (see map).

This is where the removal work will continue, since for environmental safety, it will be carried out after double-jacketed floating booms are put in place around the wreck, as the environmental authorization document provided to the Region indicates.

The third phase starts at this point: inside the wreck, hidden in its deepest bowels, the “Concordia” contains waste materials that are classified as dangerous: lubricants, fuel, bilge water, paints, asbestos and much more.

As the document submitted to the Region, signed by designer Tomaso Gerbino, spells out, “the removal of special dangerous waste materials is to be performed exclusively in dry dock,” or in other words in the Ente Bacini area, in the empty basins where ships are brought for hull repairs.

But that’s not all: the plan explains that once the waste materials have been removed, they will be selected, divided and classified within the basin to avoid releasing any pollutants or contaminants.

These materials will only be transported to a storage area at a later phase, from which they will finally be taken to disposal sites, or recycled in the case of iron and steel. There is a very delicate problem here, which is the difficulty of moving waste out of the port, given that it will be “difficult to allow such traffic into the public streets and roads,” as the proposal points out.

It is explained that “the impact can be reduced by upgrading the port’s road access, better regulating traffic both leaving the port and in the city streets, and also by prohibiting private automobiles from parking in the port’s operational areas.”

This is a plan that the Port Authority and the City of Genoa should take charge of, since it was partly addressed in the latest reorganization of the area. With this obstacle out of the way, the “Concordia” will disappear within 18-24 months.

It will be taken apart, recycled, and disposed of by about 300 workers. That is, as long as the insurers don’t choose a different destination port, sending the job to a Turkish shipyard. It is essentially a question of price, since payments are to be made (and therefore a decision must be made), and it is the insurance companies that will mainly cover the shipowner for these expenses.

But there is a big “but” to take into consideration: it is obvious that all the companies involved, starting from Costa Crociere, have a very significant interest in assigning the work to a company in which they have the utmost trust.

From this point of view, the Saipem-Cantieri San Giorgio combination can guarantee what the other options cannot, since it significantly reduces the chance that something will go wrong. This would do further damage to the image of the company, and to the Italian maritime sector, both of which have already been tarnished by the ill-fated cruise ship’s story.