A schematic of where the Costa Concordia sits on the sea floor.
Nearly two months since the Costa Concordia capsized off the coast of Italy, clean-up crews are still puzzling over what to do with the gigantic wreck. And gigantic it is—with a gross tonnage of 112,000, the Costa Concordia is twice the size of the Titantic.
The immediate concern was oil, 500,000 toxic gallons of it, that could gush into the Mediterranean. Since February 12, the Dutch film Smit has been vacuuming out fuel using a system of pumps and valves. Their work is especially tricky because the wrecked ship sits on the edge of a 200-foot underwater drop-off, and any disturbances can easily push it over. So to minimize the risk of destabilizing the ship while moving 500,000 gallons of oil out of it, Smit is pumping in seawater as it pumps out oil.
Once the fuel is all extracted, crews salvaging the actual ship will have to contend with the precipitous problem too. The cruise’s parent company recently invited 10 firms to bid on the clean-up operation. Charles Choi at Scientific American talked to some experts about possible solutions.