Workers last week removed the final piece of the metal sheet pile cofferdam from the barge Davy Crockett work site on the Columbia River near Camas, Wash. This effectively signals the end of a 10-month effort to prevent a catastrophic release of oil and other hazardous materials from the former Liberty ship.
Constructed in April 2011, the 850-linear foot cofferdam and impermeable liner allowed crews to systematically dismantle the derelict barge in the river and keep any pollution generated by the project to be contained and properly handled within. “The removal of the cofferdam concludes a ten-month response project that successfully averted an environmental disaster on the Columbia River,” said Captain Danny LeBlanc, the Coast Guard’s incident commander. “Deconstructing the 431-foot Davy Crockett within a river system was quite challenging in itself.
He added, “The area's sensitive fisheries and wildlife added an additional layer of complexity in which the Unified Command employed regular consultations with governmental agencies, scientists, environmentalists and tribal stakeholders to mitigate. Our final measuring stick of success was that the project was completed with no reported harm to fish or wildlife, and no reportable injuries to the workers.”
Total materials collected through the project include: 38,397 gallons of oil products; 3.56 million pounds of cleaned and recycled steel; 4,850 pounds of asbestos; 1.25 million pounds of debris.
The initial emergency response began in late January 2011. Responders from the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) traced an oil sheen upstream 11 miles to the partially sunken derelict barge. It had buckled in the midsection and had structural instability caused by improper and unpermitted scrapping. The Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality joined Ecology and the U.S. Coast Guard as a partner in the resulting Unified Command which oversaw the response. A decision was made in February 2011 to dismantle the barge, and in-water work began weeks later.
“Washington brought expertise in protecting water, fish and wildlife, historic, and cultural and economic resources,” said Jim Sachet, Ecology’s regional spill response manager. “We believe the Coast Guard considered and addressed these interests and made decisions which protected the Columbia River.
“We appreciate the cooperation of the local, state and federal agencies, tribal representatives and contractors. Overall, this is a great conclusion to the modern day saga of the Davy Crockett.”
“We are all very grateful that this response has gone successfully,” said Mike Greenburg, Oregon DEQ’s representative. “The wreck has been removed in its entirety and no lost-time worker injuries were sustained during the project."
Some work is still necessary to fully demobilize all the equipment used. Final figures from the project will be posted on Ecology’s website along with the extensive history and photo gallery of the project. A list of contractors involved with the Davy Crockett will also be available.