Page 43: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (January 2016)

Ship Repair & Conversion Edition

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T&T Salvage

Toxic Cargo Removal from the Sunken Tank Barge ARGO

In early December 2015, T&T Salvage completed the recovery of a highly toxic cargo from the sunken tank barge ARGO in Lake Erie. The ARGO, constructed in 1911, sank in 1937 with a cargo of benzol that con- tained a high percentage of the carcinogen benzene.

The sunken barge was previously ranked as the Na- tional Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s high- est submerged oil threat in the Great Lakes based on their Risk Assessment for Potentially Polluting Wrecks in U.S. Waters, published in March 2013.

To safely remove the cargo, T&T designed a diver di- rected hot-tapping and pumping system to recover the high benzene cargo from the sunken barge at a depth of approximately 50-feet below the lake’s surface. Divers were required to wear a positive-pressure contaminated water diving suit to prevent exposure. Additionally, support personnel on the surface were also equipped with air-purifying respirators and self-contained breath- ing apparatus to protect against potential releases of the carcinogenic cargo.

Due to the limited availability of tank vessels on the eight tanks were determined to contain cargo and ap- Working in a Uni? ed Command with the Coast Guard,

Great Lakes, T&T designed a receiving vessel that proximately 49,000 gallons of product was recovered. U.S. and Ohio Environmental Protection Agencies and included a series of storage tanks onboard a barge Throughout the operation, T&T and Coast Guard safety National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, equipped with built-for-purpose inert gas and vapor re- of? cers conducted air monitoring for the safety of the T&T successfully achieved all operational objectives covery systems to ensure the safety of the public and top-side crew and the cargo lightering team ensured the – from safely conducting contaminated water diving responders. proper operation of the inert-gas system and vapor re- operations to preventing impacts to the environment by

Once the system was designed, Coast Guard ap- covery system. cleaning-up the Great Lakes’ top submerged oil threat. proved and constructed, T&T’s team of commercial divers hot-tapped each of the Argo’s eight cargo tanks twice; once to install a hydraulic submersible pump and once to place a non-return valve on each tank to equal- ize the internal tank pressure during of? oad operations.

The cargo was then pumped to the surface through a manifold into the receiving tanks. In the end, two of the

Side scan sonar of ARGO 43

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