Over flights by U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian officials locate uncontained oil

America's Heartland Coast Guard NewsPORT HURON, Mich. – Aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit and Canadian officials discovered an uncontained oil sheen approximately 500 yards south southeast of the sunken dredge barge Arthur J during several over flight missions Saturday.

Salvage operations for the 110-foot Arthur J and 38-foot tug Madison began early Saturday morning. The first attempts at bringing up the Arthur J failed due to the weight of the sunken barge. However, the tug Madison was lifted out of the water and a large hole was located near the stern of the vessel. Salvage crewmembers welded a steel plate over the hole and have refloated the tug.

It is believed that a pocket of oil product escaped the containment during salvage operations of the Arthur J. The incident command, consisting of Coast Guard representatives, state and local agencies, is working with the responsible party, MCM Marine, to contain and clean up the newly found oil product.

The St. Clair County Health Department has kept four beaches closed as a precaution due to their vicinity to the salvage operations. They are: Washington Street Beach in Lakeport, Mich.; Lakeport Park – Day Use Recreational Area; Metcalf Road Beach in Burtchville, Mich.; and Fort Gratiot County Park in Fort Gratiot, Mich. Those residents living from Burtch Road to Metcalf Road are also advised to avoid swimming in those areas as a precautionary health measure. Monitoring will continue and further updates will be released when available. No health risks are expected, however those with concerns or questions can contact the Health Department’s Environmental Health Division by going to www.stclaircounty.org/offices/health.

The public should call the public information hotline listed below in the event they come across debris from the sunken vessels, so responders can attend to the debris as needed.

For more information, questions or concerns please contact the Incident Command Post public information hotline at (810) 982-3910 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or email the Incident Command at arthurjresponse@gmail.com.

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