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Fuel Removal Underway on Costa Shipwreck, Civil Protection Says

Salvage workers started removing fuel from the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground off the Italian coast a month ago.

The operation began at about 5 p.m. local time yesterday and should take 28 working days to complete, providing the weather is good, according to a statement published on the Italian Civil Protection’s website. The ship is holding about 500,000 gallons of oil and workers aim to remove about 84 percent of it which is located in 15 tanks, said the authority.

Royal Boskalis Westminster NV’s Smit Salvage unit and its Italian partner Neri SpA have undertaken the work.

Since the Concordia hit rocks near the island of Giglio on Jan. 13 environmentalists have raised concerns that fuel leaks may contaminate sea water and affect marine life. The Concordia ran aground hours after leaving a port close to Rome with 4,200 passengers and crew. The accident killed at least 17 people.

Concordia’s Captain Francesco Schettino was placed under house arrest on Jan. 17 for allegedly causing the shipwreck. No formal charges have yet been filed.

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