The Italian government announced on Monday that the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise liner will be dismantled in the north-western port of Genoa, putting an end to a dispute that threatened to delay salvage operations.
Last week, authorities in Tuscany who wanted the lucrative dismantling contract to go to the local port of Piombino had vetoed decisions in favour of Genoa by a technical panel, which was forced to delegate the issue to the national government.
“#Concordia is going to Genoa,” Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti tweeted after a cabinet meeting in Rome.
“An Italian solution rewards our efforts. Now we will be on the lookout for maximum environmental protection.”
Costa Crociere, a subsidiary of US group Carnival, which owns the Concordia, had already picked Genoa as its preferred location.
Chief executive officer Michael Thamm welcomed the government's go-ahead.
“We are close to the finish line. We are two weeks away from possible refloating,” he said.
A location in Turkey was a cheaper but riskier option for the dismantling, because of the much longer trip to reach the destination.
Refloating and moving the Concordia - a 300m, 114 000-ton vessel - out of Giglio's shoreline is a major engineering effort, during which there is a risk of toxic substances being released.
The procedure is expected to be completed by the end of July.
The Concordia hit a reef and partly capsized on January 13, 2012, after being steered dangerously close to Giglio, in an alleged stunt by captain Francesco Schettino.
Thirty-two of the 4 229 people onboard were killed. - Sapa-dpa