Barge recovery effort on icy Ohio River

A contractor joined the regional Corps of Engineers repair fleet and industry towboats at Emsworth Lock and Dam on the Ohio River to help clear ice, so vessels can begin to recover barges pinned against the dam for a week now.

River Salvage Company Inc., Pittsburgh, was awarded an emergency contract by the Corps to assist with ice clearing, to open a channel for recovery vessels and regain operation of the lock gates.

Corps of Engineers workers use a clamshell bucket to clear the navigation channel at Emsworth Locks and Dam on the Ohio River downstream of Pittsburgh, where breakaway barges lodged against the main and back channels of the dam. Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo.

Corps of Engineers workers use a clamshell bucket to clear the navigation channel at Emsworth Locks and Dam on the Ohio River downstream of Pittsburgh, where breakaway barges lodged against the main and back channels of the dam. Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo.

Heavy ice and high water triggered a breakaway Jan. 13 from the Jake’s Run fleeting area at mile marker 4, when 27 barges were swept down river to the dam. A unified command of the Coast Guard, Corps and industry partners has accounted for 25 of those barges, with the two missing believed sunk above the dam.

Recovering the barges has been hampered by a mass of ice extending for a mile above the dam, Coast Guard officials said.

Meanwhile, 34 barges that broke away last weekend from fleeting areas at mile marker 94 on the Ohio near Moundsville, W. Va., have all been located, they said.

Two of those are in the river channel. The Corps has been conducting side scan sonar surveys to look for obstructions in the channel. Two safety zones with full waterway closures remain in effect, from mile marker 93 to mile marker 110 and mile marker 2 to mile marker 20 on the Ohio, due to risk of channel obstructions.

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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