Argo salvage crews prepare for lightering

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(CLEVELAND) — Salvage operations for the sunken tanker barge Argo in Lake Erie continue as the Unified Command proceeds with plans for product recovery.

Crews will start prepping the first tank this week for “hot tapping” operations. Actual lightering operations will not occur until later in the week at the earliest, as the response operators are still waiting for the proper tank to offload the material into and weather continues to impede operations.

The results from the sample from this first tank, sampled on Nov. 9, were found to be primarily benzene, with some toluene, xylene and trace elements of petroleum.

Because these materials are not typically shipped on the Great Lakes, the proper equipment to remove it is not available in this region. Response operators are waiting for receiving tanks, designed for chemicals, to be modified for use on a barge in the Great Lakes marine environment.

In the meantime, the safety zone around the barge remains at 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, Station Marblehead, which may be contacted via VHF FM marine radio Channel 16.

All questions about the response should be directed to the Joint Information Center at 419-746-5424.

By Professional Mariner Staff