Work to remove crushed cars from Commencement Bay progressing nicely

Photos of crane lifting crushed cars onto barge in Commencement Bay. Photo courtesy of Global Diving & Salvage
Global Diving & Salvage removes crushed cars from the bottom of Commencement Bay, June 4, 2013. Photo: Global Diving & Salvage

Remember the barge full of crushed cars that lost part of its 150,000-ton load in Tacoma’s Commencement Bay in February?

Global Diving and Salvage began removing them yesterday, June 5. By the end of the day, the company had retrieved 17 of the approximately 30 vehicles that had fallen into the bay. Work continues today, and the crew expects to finish recovering all vehicles and associated debris by the end of the day.

On February 24, the 250-foot Amix Marine Services barge, ZB 189, anchored in Commencement Bay, began listing and taking on water. The barge had stacks of crushed cars on it and many of them fell into the 242-ft deep water. The area where the cars sank is on state-owned aquatic lands, which DNR manages, and is leased by Foss Maritime.

Thanks to the observant staff at Foss for quickly notifying the owner that the barge was taking on water last February, which kept the situation from getting worse.

“We are very concerned about any potential harmful effects the scrap cars and other debris may have to the marine environment,” said Stephanie Lorenz, an aquatic lands manager with DNR. “As steward and manager of more than 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands, we are committed to preserving the state’s resources and protecting habitat. Leaving the toxic-laden cars in the bay was not an option.”

The following partners worked to expedite the removal of the cars and debris: Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Department of Ecology, DNR, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, and the City of Tacoma.

For more information, background, photos, and to learn how technology is being used to recover the cars with as little environmental damage as possible, visit Ecology’s “ZB Barge Incident” web page.

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