The wrecked Costa Concordia will be towed from the island of Giglio by the start of August - two years and eight months after it crashed into rocks with the loss of 32 lives.
Some reports suggest, however, that islanders are concerned that the complex operation to remove the huge wreck will necessitate the closure of Giglio's ferry service - thus strangling the tourism trade for a week near the peak of the summer season.
The final decision on when to begin the delicate task of towing the wreck will be decided by sea conditions. This week La Repubblica newspaper said that, based on past weather conditions recorded by ISPRA (Institute for Environmental Protection and Research), authorities believed that any day between 13 July and 8 August might be chosen.
Figures suggest that on these dates the vessel would be less likely to meet waves higher than 2ft while it is towed to the mainland.
The 290m, 13-deck liner was restored to an upright position after a successful parbuckling operation last September.
The owner, Costa Cruises, will scrap the ship, but it is not yet certain where it will be dismantled. The port of Genoa is thought to be most likely; a final decision on whether or not to send it there is due by 26 June. If Genoa's bid to scrap the vessel is turned down, the Concordia might go to the rival Tuscan port of Piombino.
Yesterday, the governor of Tuscany, Enrico Rossi, continued campaigning for Piombino, noting that Genoa was five times further away. "It will take five days to get to Genoa and one to Piombino. Five-day weather forecasts are not reliable," he said.
Engineers have said they will use a robot to monitor residual fuel in the ship's tanks to prevent any leaks during the removal operation.
The Costa Concordia cruise liner lies in the waters of the Giglio Island, Italy. Photo / AP
According to Greenpeace, however, there is no place to safely dispose of the Concordia in Italy, where it would take at least two years to build a naval demolition basin. It has also been suggested that the vessel could be scrapped abroad; Turkey has been suggested as one possible destination.