Tank Barge Argo response comes to an end

A T&T Salvage Inc. diver, wearing a positive pressure dive suit, is inspected by his coworkers prior to conducting dive operations for the Argo response in Lake Erie, Nov. 24, 2015. Divers conducting operations during the Argo response are required to wear specialized dive suits designed for the utmost safety to the diver while ensuring flexibility, ease of decontamination and chemical resistance. (U.S. Coast Guard photo Edward Primeau)

CLEVELAND — The ARGO response officially ended Monday afternoon, when all remaining equipment was demobilized.

A total of 33,475 gallons of cargo and water mixture were removed from the vessel.

“The U.S. Coast Guard and the Ohio EPA would like to thank all personnel involved with the response,” the Unified Command said in a statement prior to demobilizing. “Every time multiple organizations work together, there is a steep learning curve as independent agencies blend different policies and procedures to complete a common goal. A total of 13 federal, state, local and Canadian agencies and salvage organizations worked together to remove the product from the 104 year old vessel. All agencies displayed exceptional teamwork which greatly contributed to a safe and highly successful incident response. Due to the hard work and dedication shown by all, a significant hazard to the public and the environment has been effectively mitigated. In addition, the interagency cooperation shown during this response has better prepared local agencies to effectively address future problems that may arise in western Lake Erie.”

Monday afternoon, all remaining equipment was demobilized, officially ending the ARGO Response. In all, up to $5.2 million was made available from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and $450,000 from the hazardous material superfund to utilize in clean-up operations.

Cost documentation for the response is still being finalized and will be reviewed to ensure proper accountability of all funding used.

Shore-side transfer operations began December 8. Cargo mixture was pumped into tank trucks for transfer to a disposal facility. A total of 10 transfers over the course of five days were completed without incident. Following the transfers, the portable tanks were decontaminated December 12.

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