A three-month-long saga in Port McNeill has come to an end after the Alaska Plaza was finally raised from the ocean floor this week.
The 25-metre-long, two-story accommodation barge owned by the Croman Corporation in Oregon had to be partially cut apart by divers.
“Well, we were up against all kinds of complicating factors,” said Bill Coltart, Managing Director of Colmor Marine & Salvage. “You know when you look at a barge that was built 50 years ago, you never know how it was put together.”
The barge sank on Christmas Eve and initial efforts to raise it in early January were successful, but it soon sank again in bad weather when it was tied to a dock in the Port McNeill harbour.
Colmor Marine & Salvage is based in the Comox Valley and specializes in underwater work, but this was a big job — as tonnes of steel had to be cut off the structure before it could be raised.
“We had divers working for a number of weeks by using underwater torching devices to be able to torch the steel and be able to remove the top floor in sections, which removed in excess of probably 35 to 40 tonnes of steel,” said Coltart.
The Croman Corporation in Oregon is taking full responsibility for the cleanup and the Coast Guard has said the environmental impact is minimal.
“Today our divers are just finishing up removing bits of small debris that we left on the bottom and then my understanding is there’s going to be an independent biological assessment report released after that,” said Coltart.