Crew raises barge from Elk River, pumps out dangerous chemical cargo

March 06, 2000|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A salvage crew raised a barge yesterday that had sunk Jan. 30 in the Elk River in Cecil County, and pumped the craft's potentially harmful 1,000-ton load of sodium silicate into the tanks of another barge.

The barge, which sank in water about 30 feet deep, had been hindering navigation in that part of the river, near the C&D Canal. The corrosive sodium silicate, an industrial polishing agent, also posed an environmental threat, said Senior Chief Petty Officer Tim Zernick, who is a marine science technician for the Coast Guard in Baltimore.

Zernick said tests on water samples indicate little or no leaking of the sodium silicate.

The Coast Guard and the Maryland Department of the Environment monitored raising the barge. The operation was paid for by the barge's owner, PQ Corp. of Philadelphia.

The Coast Guard is investigating the sinking.

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