Response crews conclude product removal from tanker barge Argo

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)

A T&T Salvage Inc. diver, wearing a positive pressure dive suit, is inspected by his coworkers prior to conducting dive operations. (U.S. Coast Guard photo Edward Primeau)

CLEVELAND – Response crews completed salvage operations to remove a water product mixture from the Lake Erie sunken tanker barge Wednesday.

As weather allowed, salvage crews worked methodically, removing the hazardous substance from the sunken barge. The hazardous substance was then pumped into receiving tanks aboard a work barge at the site, mitigating potential impact to the marine environment.

“The Unified Command, consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Ohio EPA, worked in partnership with other federal, state and local agencies ensuring that safety of the responders and the public of Lake Erie’s surrounding shores remained their highest priority throughout response operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Shaun Edwards, federal on scene coordinator. “Due to the diligence and collaborative efforts of all those involved in the response, the Unified Command was satisfied that the barge does not continue to pose a safety or environmental hazard.”

At the time of the barge Argo sinking in 1937, a news report estimated 100,000 gallons of crude oil and 100,000 gallons of benzol were onboard, but this information could not be verified.

The sunken barge is located away from commercial ship traffic, and the vessel is in 44-foot deep water.

The Coast Guard has utilized the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act to conduct pollution mitigation operations. No injuries, impacted wildlife or pollution have been reported.

The Coast Guard’s established safety zone, located 8 nautical miles east of Kelleys Island and extending 1,000 feet around the position of the Argo, remains in effect and is closed to all traffic until further notice. No vessel may enter, transit through or anchor within the regulated area without permission from the Coast Guard patrol commander, Station Marblehead, which may be contacted via VHF-FM channel 16.


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