Derelict Vessel's Structural Problems Complicate Cleanup
by Mark Bowder
The Columbian, January 29, 2011
Barge near Camas has been leaking oil into the Columbia River
Structural instability on the Davy Crockett is complicating efforts to find and remove oil that began leaking into the Columbia River when the derelict vessel broke up last week near Camas.
"Pollution response at this point consists of containment and removal from the water's surface using absorbent materials and skimmers," said Mike Greenburg, Oregon's on-scene coordinator for the multi-agency response team. "Stability of the vessel is a vital concern, and we are working toward establishing it."
A bulletin released Saturday afternoon from the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Portland reported that a light sheen of oil remained visible on the water's surface, extending about 150 feet from the vessel.
Some 18,000 feet of sorbent boom and 2,800 feet of hard boom had been put in place to prevent further spread of the oil as crews worked to support the vessel's structure. As of noon Saturday, 705 gallons of oil had been recovered in the cleanup.
Personnel from Ballard Diving and Salvage Co. and National Response Corp. Environmental Services were conducting underwater surveys and working to recover oil from the vessel.
The diving operations are on-going but are dependent on vessel stability, the Coast Guard said. A 500-yard no-wake zone was established around the Davy Crockett to ensure the safety of workers and prevent further damage to the vessel.
The Davy Crockett, a 431-foot World War II Liberty ship that was converted to a barge more than 40 years ago, has been derelict on the north bank of the Columbia River for years and sank in the last 18 months. It began breaking up last week and leaking oil that reached as far downstream as the Port of Vancouver.
The vessel does not pose a hazard to navigation, the Coast Guard said.
Agencies responding to the spill include the Coast Guard, the Washington Department of Ecology, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
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