Response teams have begun lightering operations aboard the sunken tank barge Argo in Lake Erie.
Friday offered the U.S. Coast Guard and Ohio EPA favorable conditions to begin offloading petroleum product from the barge that sank in foul weather in 1937. As each of the Argo’s eight tanks are tapped, the product will be pumped into a special container on a work barge, where it will be run through a series of carbon filters to separate and remove the flammable vapors from the product.
The Argo was believed to be carrying about 100,000 gals. of both crude oil and benzol when she sank near Kelleys Island, Ohio, but the exact contents of her cargo have been lost to history. Further sampling will be conducted as the product is removed.
Salvage operations will continue, one tank at a time, as the weather allows, the Coast Guard said, noting that it was taking “all necessary actions to ensure the safety of the public and the environment.”
The safety zone radius around the barge remains at one nautical mile directly above the vessel’s location at the bottom of Lake Erie.