Coast Guard moves forward with removal of the barge Davy Crockett

PORTLAND, Ore. – A 431-foot flat-deck barge called the Davy Crockett partially sunk on the shoreline of the Columbia River near Camas, Wash., Jan. 30, 2011. Federal, state and cleanup contractors responded to the barge after a sheen was traced back to it.. The Davy Crockett is a former U.S. Navy Liberty Ship that has been converted to a flat-deck barge. Photo by Coast Guard Auxiliary.

flat-deck barge Davy Crockett photo by Coast Guard Auxiliary.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Adm. Robert Papp, Commandant of the Coast Guard, authorized Coast Guard Sector Columbia River to remove/destroy the barge Davy Crockett from its current location near Camas, Wash., Wednesday.

In the authorization memorandum, Adm. Papp stated that “destruction of this vessel is appropriate to mitigate the threat of continued discharge of oil, oil water mixtures, and hazardous substances into the waterway.”

“With the Commandant’s authorization in hand, the unified command will work swiftly and diligently to develop and implement a removal and destruction plan for the Davy Crockett,” said Capt. Daniel LeBlanc, Coast Guard Incident Commander and Federal On-Scene Coordinator’s Representative for the Davy Crockett Unified Response. “Safety and environmental protection measures will remain paramount throughout all operations as we move forward to remove the vessel from the Columbia River.”

The Davy Crockett, a converted Navy liberty ship built in 1942, began leaking oil into the Columbia River (Ore. Wash. Border) as a result of a scrapping operation conducted by its owner. The Wash. Dept. of Ecology and Coast Guard received reports of a light sheen and determined the source to be the Davy Crockett.

Immediate response actions were taken and the Davy Crockett Unified Response was formed, staffed by the Coast Guard, Wash. Dept. of Ecology and Ore. Dept. of Environmental Quality, using the National Incident Management System.

In order to stabilize the vessel, which had been structurally compromised during the civilian scrapping operation, ballasting operations were undertaken and completed on Feb. 4, 2011. Following ballasting, operations concentrated on surface and underwater debris removal in order to gain access to vessel tanks and spaces to patch holes and prevent oil from escaping into the river. In addition, extensive sampling operations ensued to identify substances remaining within the vessel and determine any impact to the waters both surrounding and downriver from the vessel.

As of 7 A.M. Thursday, the total debris recovered was 194,710 pounds consisting primarily of metal scrap. Debris removal is necessary to allow divers clear and safe access to repair critical portions of the vessel for environmental protection and stability for future removal actions. In addition, the total oily water recovered is 5,701 gallons; oily water refers to any quantity of oil and/or an oily/water mixture recovered from the Davy Crockett.

Thus far, $3.4 million has been obligated to the response from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSLTF). The Coast Guard’s National Pollution Funds Center (NPFC) manages distribution of the OSLTF. The NPFC was created to implement Title I of the Oil Pollution Act, which addressed issues associated with preventing, responding to, and funding clean up operations for oil spills and/or significant threats of oil pollution.

The Davy Crockett is currently anchored and stabilized near Camas, Wash., approximately four miles upriver from the Interstate 205 Bridge. A light sheen can be seen around the vessel intermittently, but is well contained by oil containment boom and is dissipating naturally.

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