Demolition of barge Davy Crockett completed

13th Coast Guard District NewsOLYMPIA — Work crews removed the last remaining section of the barge Davy Crockett from the Columbia River near Camas, Wash., on Thursday.

The final lift took place nearly seven months after the joint response effort by the U.S. Coast Guard, Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) began. It ends a massive and carefully engineered effort to prevent more than 33,000 gallons of bunker oil from escaping into the river from the various double-bottom tanks and other holds harboring the sticky black substance.

“We did it right. Our response posture protected the environment and prevented nearly 33,000 gallons of oil from reaching the Columbia River,” said Capt. Daniel LeBlanc, Coast Guard Incident Commander and Federal On-Scene Coordinator.

“Protecting the environment while ensuring worker and public safety has been a top objective for our agencies. All of the activities involving the response effort, deconstruction and removal of the Davy Crockett were designed to minimize any environmental impacts,” said Ron Holcomb, Washington Dept. of Ecology State On-Scene Coordinator.

“There is still important work ahead. The final phases of the response will consist of vacuum dredging of affected sediments at the work site and removal of the cofferdam. Dredging will take approximately two weeks to complete, while it will take six weeks for deconstruction of the cofferdam,” said Mike Greenburg, Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality State On-Scene Coordinator.

“There were a lot of obstacles we had to overcome, some of them immediate. Our past experience with Liberty Ships gave us insight for how to get those accomplished. The cofferdam gave us the ability to contain all of the pollution hazard and we were very fortunate no one was injured,” said Robert Mester, Ballard Diving and Salvage project coordinator.

During the 211-day operation, crews removed 4.4 million pounds of steel and another 838,432 pounds of debris, including wire, bricks and oiled sorbent materials. Workers have also removed 4,850 pounds of asbestos. The response resulted in approximately 1.6 million gallons of oily or otherwise contaminated water that was taken off-site for proper disposal.

Most importantly, the project was completed safely for the workers and the public.

On Jan. 27, 2011, oil spill responders from Ecology traced a 14-mile sheen back to the Davy Crockett, moored near the Washington shoreline. The vessel had been weakened by scrapping activities. It buckled and partially sank, releasing an estimated 70 gallons of oil. Unsure of how much additional oil or other hazards were still on board, the responding agencies formed a Unified Command to oversee the emergency response.

In February 2011, Adm. Robert Papp, Commandant of the Coast Guard, authorized the destruction of the Davy Crockett to address the threat of continued hazardous discharges into the river.

In April 2011, after all other options were exhausted, workers built a sheetpile wall to fully encircle the Davy Crockett for its demolition. It was lined with an impermeable silt barrier and additional sorbent materials to collect any oil that escaped during the project.

The Unified Command directed that the design of the operations minimize any environmental impact. The project received all necessary environmental permits, and water and sediments samples have been taken inside the cofferdam throughout the project.

While the vessel demolition is complete, crews from Ballard Diving and Salvage will continue to collect steel chunks and operate the water filtration system inside the cofferdam. Sediment cleanup inside the cofferdam will follow before the sheetpile walls are removed.

The estimated federal costs for the project are around $20 million, which is funded by the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

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