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Damaged Barge Off Point Conception Moved, Sunk

Vessel relocated from environmentally sensitive area before being scuttled

A 260-foot barge that partially sank near Point Conception earlier this month was re-floated and removed from an environmentally sensitive area before being allowed to sink, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The agency was still investigating the cause of the incident, Coast Guard spokesman Adam Eggers said.

The Coast Guard received a distress call from the tugboat Calvin on June 8, reporting that the barge Nash was sinking near the Point Conception State Marine Reserve.

The vessel — carrying carrying 3,900 metric tons of magnesium chloride at the time of the incident, most of which were released into the water — was successfully scuttled offshore on Tuesday.

Eggers described the substance as a "non-hazardous derivative of sea water," adding that its release into the water should have "no projected or observed environmental impact."

The barge initially sank stern first, leaving the bow extended above the water, Eggers said, and air spaces in the cargo tanks were crushed and the hull breached.  

The vessel came to rest about a half-mile south of the oil and gas pipelines extending from the Platform Hermosa Platform to the shore near Point Conception, Eggers said.

Tugboats watched over the wreckage to make sure the barge did not shift or move during salvage efforts.

Representatives from the Coast Guard, the California’s Department of Fish & Wildlife, and Global Diving & Salvage also were on scene to watch over the safety of the salvage operations.

The Coast Guard worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, and the National Marine Fisheries Service to designate a deep ocean disposal location offshore where the barge could be scuttled safely with minimal impact to the environment. Eggers said.

The owner of the barge, Seattle-based Salmon Bay Barge Line, Inc., contracted with Global Diving & Salvage, Inc. to provide a team to restore sufficient buoyancy to the badly damaged hull, allowing it to be towed offshore and sunk away from the sensitive areas, Eggers said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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