Divers restart salvage operation on sunken barge in Port McNeill

Divers restart salvage operation on sunken barge in Port McNeill
WatchDivers restart salvage operation on sunken barge in Port McNeill

Divers were back in the Port McNeill harbour Tuesday as salvage efforts on a sunken camp barge resumed.

The two-story barge measuring 10 metres wide by 24 metres long sank on Christmas Day as it was tied to an industrial dock.

Salvage crews tried to refloat it in early January but the barge sunk again in bad weather.

“We had attempted to lift it but had some complications and it sank again so this go around we’re going to do it a little bit different, we’re going to take it apart first,” said Mitch Hanan, CFO of Croman Corporation in White City, Ore.

Croman Corporation owns the barge which was being taken back to the U.S. but had stopped in Port McNeill over Christmas.

“They’re going to take it apart at the bottom and we’ll clean the bottom as we go so it will have what’s called a turbidity curtain around it,” added Hanan.

The Canadian Coast Guard has been monitoring environmental impacts and is satisfied that any spills at the time of the sinking or since then have been minor.

“I guess the key part is that isn’t a vessel that uses fuel for propulsion, it’s just a barge that uses fuel for generators so what I’m saying is there wasn’t a lot of oil on board or fuel on board at the time and really that’s been limited to the local area,” said Jeff Brady, environmental response superintendent with the Canadian Coast Guard, Western Region.

The barge called the Alaska Plaza is owned by the Oregon-based Croman Corporation, which is cooperating and taking full responsibility for the cleanup.

Hanan would not divulge the cost of the cleanup.

“I’d rather not but you totally lost a camp barge and the expenses of doing that, you’re right it’s not cheap,” he said. “It was a bad deal all around but we want to be as good a citizens as we can and get this cleaned up.

The salvage operation is expected to take about two weeks.

The coast guard is asking mariners to avoid the area which is near the BC Ferries terminal, as much as possible.

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Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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