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36 scrap cars removed from Commencement Bay after being dumped from listing barge in February

Post by Alexis Krell / The News Tribune on June 10, 2013 at 6:32 pm with No Comments »
June 10, 2013 7:30 pm

More than three months after a listing barge dumped 36 scrap vehicles into Commencement Bay, crews have brought the cars to the surface.

It took time to get the necessary permits to start the recovery on the state land near Browns Point, but the operation itself took only days.

The state Department of Ecology said June 4 that the company contracted to remove the cars had gotten the necessary state permits, and by Wednesday evening all the vehicles had been removed, according to Global Diving & Salvage.

Canadian-based Amix Marine Services, owner of the barge that dumped the cars Feb. 24 near Browns Point, hired Global to do the work.

Early reports estimated eight or nine cars sunk, but Global recovered about four times that number.

Getting the scrap metal off the bottom was important to protect marine life in the area, said state Department of Fish and Wildlife area biologist Leonard Machut.

“Brake dust to copper wiring, heavy metals that are in the computer chips and stuff like that could end up making their way into fish tissues and causing some damage to them,” he said Monday.

Some creatures also try to turn such waste into makeshift homes, Machut said.

“Juvenile and adult rockfish readily colonize non-natural structures,” he said. “You’re actually drawing fish away from their natural habitat that’s a little more suitable for them.”

Having the cars out by June isn’t as soon as Machut would have liked, but it was quick enough to minimize the chance for oils and metals to be leached out of the wreck, he said.

“You don’t want somebody dumping trash over the fence into your yard, and it’s the same with state waters,” he said. “Instead of a neighbor’s yard, it’s everybody’s.”

Emergency responders talk boat-to-boat next to a listing barge laden with scrap car hulks anchored near the northern shore of Commencement Bay Feb. 24 in Tacoma. Peter Haley / Staff photographer
Emergency responders talk boat-to-boat next to a listing barge laden with scrap car hulks anchored near the northern shore of Commencement Bay Feb. 24 in Tacoma.
Peter Haley / Staff photographer
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