Divers to collect sample of barge product, could cause odor in surrounding areas

Contractors conduct dive operations at the site of a sunken barge near the Kelley's Island Shoal in Lake Erie, Oct. 21, 2015. The divers were trying to establish the identity of the barge and if it or any of its cargo poses an environmental threat. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station Marblehead)

Contractors conduct dive operations at the site of a sunken barge near the Kelley’s Island Shoal in Lake Erie. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station Marblehead)

CLEVELAND – Divers plan to briefly remove a plug they installed on the sunken barge 9 nautical miles north east of Kelleys Island in Lake Erie Monday to collect a sample of the product inside for identification.

When the plug is removed, a small amount of the product will escape, rise to the surface of the water and could cause an odor in surrounding areas up to several miles away, depending on wind conditions. Air monitoring will continue throughout the evolution, ensuring the safety of both responders and residents on the far shores.

As a precaution, residents should be aware that they could smell a sweet, aromatic gasoline-like odor but just because they smell the odor, they are not being exposed. However, residents who do not feel well should contact a doctor or seek medical attention.

As a further precautionary measure, the safety zone around the barge has been extended to 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.

Samples taken from the sediment inside the four open compartments did not reveal what the compartments previously contained.

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