Operations continue for sunken Lake Erie tanker barge Argo

A responder labels a sample of product for analysis extracted from the Lake Erie Barge Argo Nov. 11, 2015. The Unified Command, consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard and Ohio EPA, continues to take all necessary actions to ensure the safety of the public and the environment during the response. (Photo by U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Lauren Jorgensen)

A responder labels a sample of product for analysis extracted from the Lake Erie Barge Argo Nov. 11, 2015. (Photo by U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Lauren Jorgensen)

CLEVELAND – Salvage operations for the sunken tanker barge Argo in Lake Erie continue as the Unified Command proceeds with plans for product recovery.

Crews will start prepping the first tank this week for “hot tapping” operations. Actual lightering operations will not occur until later in the week at the earliest, as the response operators are still waiting for the proper tank to offload the material into and weather continues to impede operations.

The results from the sample from this first tank, sampled on November 9, were found to be primarily Benzene, with some Toluene, Xylene and trace elements of petroleum.

Because these materials are not typically shipped on the Great Lakes, the proper equipment to remove it is not available in this region. Response operators are waiting for receiving tanks, designed for chemicals, to be modified for use on a barge in the Great Lakes marine environment.

In the meantime, the safety zone around the barge remains at a 1 nautical mile radius directly above the barge’s location at the bottom of Lake Erie. No vessel may enter, transit through or anchor within the regulated area without permission from the Coast Guard patrol commander, Coast Guard Station Marblehead, which may be contacted via VHF FM marine radio channel 16.

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