Response crews have completed salvage operations on the Argo, a tank barge that sunk in Lake Erie in 1937 and was found to be leaking petroleum product last month.
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 and the results of samples taken from the barge have not been released.
The barge was discovered in August and operations to remove the petroleum product onboard began late last month after a leak was discovered and plugged. The Coast Guard and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency worked with T&T Salvage to offload the product, work that was completed on Wednesday, the Coast Guard said.
“The Unified Command, consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Ohio EPA, worked in partnership with other federal, state and local agencies ensuring that safety of the responders and the public of Lake Erie’s surrounding shores remained their highest priority throughout response operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Shaun Edwards, federal on scene coordinator. “Due to the diligence and collaborative efforts of all those involved in the response, the Unified Command was satisfied that the barge does not continue to pose a safety or environmental hazard.”
The barge’s hazardous cargo put her on a most-wanted Great Lakes shipwreck list compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which in 2013 created a detailed risk assessment in the event that oil began to leak from the vessel.
The sunken barge is located away from commercial ship traffic in 44’ of water, the Coast Guard said. An established safety zone located eight nautical miles east of Kelleys Island and extending 1,000 feet around the position of the Argo, remains in effect and is closed to all traffic until further notice.