Costa Concordia’s second life

Genoa - The steel will be recycled and converted into beams for the construction of buildings.

di Simone Gallotti

Genoa - Nothing is created, nothing is destroyed. And yet when it’s made of steel, everything is transformed. The Concordia for example, once transported, cut into pieces and processed, will become the heart, the backbone of new buildings, warehouses, industry plants. The ship’s second life will no longer be at sea, but perhaps it will be part of some quiet suburban house: “We will use it to make beams, girders and rods for reinforced concrete, in short, it will transform into building material.” Duferco is the name of the group that will deal with the operation, while observing in practice one of the laws that rule the universe: “It is very likely that we made the steel plates used on the Concordia, since we supply Fincantieri.” What goes around comes around: just like this ship, which was launched in Genoa and will now return to the same basin to be destroyed. Antonio Gozzi, the Chairman of the Entella Football Club, which was newly promoted to Serie B, is not all about sport. Indeed, during the week, in “normal” life, he is the top dog at Federacciai, the association of Italian steel manufacturers and most importantly he is at the helm of one of the leading companies in the Italian steel industry, that same Duferco.

Brescia Group will provide the furnace that will consume the 60,000 tons of steel scrapped off the Concordia. “There is much talk of how economies should be able to reuse what they produce; it seems that the steel industry is the largest industrial recycling machine. Do you know how many tons of steel are produced from recycling? Fourteen million,” he explains, enunciating every letter of the words. Duferco is the last one in a chain of companies forming the consortium awarded with the removal operation of the Concordia, from the island of Giglio, but it’s not bad to be last. During the regional services conferences and amidst loud arguments, when Tuscany attacked and Genoa retorted, the disposing of that overwhelming mass of steel was one of the central issues discussed and Duferco was able to “guarantee that the project they had presented was fool proof”. So, San Giorgio del Porto (the Genoese shipyards that will actually dismantle the ship), Saipem and Titan Micoperi, thought of bringing the “Steel King” into the picture.

And so entered Gozzi, offering market prices: “50 to 60,000 tons of steel can be obtained from the Concordia, and we think we have to buy it at 260-270 EUR per ton: on the other hand the ship is made of high quality steel, much better than the recycled quality used in home appliances; in washing machines, for example, there is still too much zinc,” says Gozzi. The 60 thousand tons that will come from the hull of the wreck in Genoa are equal to almost a month’s work for the plant in Brescia, because “just to give you an idea, we produce up to 70,000 tons in thirty days in that furnace.” With just a little bit of maths, it’s easy to calculate that the ship’s steel, at the price indicated by Gozzi, is worth between 15 and 16 million Euros: “But it’s the only source of revenue in this operation for the consortium,” says Duferco’s number one. The final stage of the ship’s removal, now that the the last of the 30 caissons required for the re-floating of the wreck have been successfully installed, has become even more important because everything is ready for the final voyage of the ship: “With the installation of the last caisson, the countdown for the re-floating and the final departure of the Concordia from the Island of Giglio can begin,” Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Cruises, said yesterday. “Now, all our energies are focused on the successful conclusion of this unprecedented engineering feat and we respectfully stand by a firm commitment: to remove the wreck of the Concordia as soon as possible, with maximum respect for the environment and its safety.”

Once positioning is finished all systems can start their testing in preparation for the re-floating operation “possibly within the next ten days,” confirms Costa Cruises. At that point the Concordia will be able to leave the island of Giglio and travel to Genoa, where its break-up and recycling will begin. And that’s when Concordia’s second life will start. But actually, now that the story of the wreck has almost come to its conclusion, everything is much less romantic; it is primarily an economic issue. At least, that’s what everyone thought, in the general euphoria generated by the allocation of the dismantling job to Genoa, the city that hopes to revive itself by scrapping a ship. The same applies for Gozzi, who was born in Chiavari, teaches at the University of Genoa, in the Faculty of Economics and has planted deep roots, also with local football, in the area of Tigullio; deep down it’s all about business. “Of course we’re very proud in Liguria for the allocation of the operation to Genoa, but for us it all comes down to business,” he says while taking off the Chiavari shirt and putting on his Duferco Group jersey, an international company with offices around the world.” At the end of the day, this is simply an 80 million euro job, and it should be regarded as such”. Gozzi, a man with a heart of steel.