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Crews Make Progress Toward Recovering Sunken Barge

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(credit: U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station Port Huron, Mich.)

(credit: U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station Port Huron, Mich.)

LAKEPORT, Mich. (AP) – Crews are making progress toward salvaging a dredging barge that sank in southern Lake Huron during a storm last week, the U.S. Coast Guard said Monday.

Petty Officer Levi Read said the barge could be lifted to the surface by the end of the day, although more rough weather could cause a delay.

“We have thunderstorms rolling in, so that will slow us down a little bit,” he said.

The 110-foot barge sank and a 38-foot tugboat capsized last Thursday off Lakeport, about a mile from the Michigan coast and nearly six miles from the opening to the St. Clair River. No one was hurt. The cause is undetermined.

The tug was recovered over the weekend.

Workers were pumping diesel fuel and oily water from the barge’s fuel tanks, which should make it easier to re-float the vessel. The first attempts to raise the barge failed because of its weight.

Crews planned to use a crane on another barge to lift the stricken one, which was partially submerged in about 22 feet of water.

It’s still uncertain how much fuel escaped into the lake, Read said. The barge was carrying about 1,500 gallons of diesel and the tug about 300 gallons.

Salvage crews pumped 625 gallons of pure diesel about 3,400 gallons of oily water from the barge’s tanks, Read said.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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