Saturday, May 03, 2008

Barge Breaks In Half In Seattle

Workers were removing the remaining gravel from a barge at Harbor Island that buckled earlier in the day, was partly submerged and dumped part of its load into the Duwamish. "It is taking on water but still floating. Apparently, it isn't in danger of sinking," said Kathy Davis, a spokeswoman from the state Ecology Department. A crew from the Ash Grove Cement Co. was removing gravel from the barge for Stoneway Concrete around 4 p.m. when the accident happened, said Craig Puljan, the Ash Grove plant manager in Seattle. An Ash Grove crew was using a front-end loader and portable conveyer to unload the barge, he said. No one was injured. Much of the sand and gravel on the barge had been removed before it broke, but some slid into the waterway. "One of the issues is that it is on top of a Superfund site," Davis said."We are asking them not to dredge the lump of material that fell into the waterway until we have a plan. Dredging it could stir up sediments." The company is expected to submit a salvage plan before removing the barge, said Coast Guard Lt. Jennifer Runion. Her agency is investigating whether the 273-foot barge was loaded properly. The barge is owned by Island Tug & Barge Co. A second, larger barge equipped with a crane was brought in to help in the recovery effort. Using the crane, crews removed the front-end loader, whose diesel fuel posed a potential spill danger. A man who identified himself only as Mike said he was working on his sailboat when he heard the accident. "I thought there was an earthquake," he said. "The boat started rocking like mad. It did throw up a pretty good wave."

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