Z.B. Barge incident

(Information on this site is considered to be accurate at the time of posting, but is subject to change as new information becomes available.)

A 250-foot Amix Marine Services barge from Canada anchored in Commencement Bay was listing and taking on water.

Summary information

Date of incident:  February 24, 2013

Commencement Bay, Tacoma, WA

Type of incident: Residual oils, unknown quantity
Cause of incident: Crack in the ships hull
Responsible party: Amix Marine Services
An Amix Marine Services barge listing in Commencement Bay.

An Amix Marine Services barge listing in Commencement Bay. Photo by U.S. Coast Guard.

Status updates

August 2, 2013

On July 26, 2013, Ecology’s Southwest Region issued a $500 penalty to Amix Marine Services, from New Westminster, B.C., in response to violation of state laws prohibiting discharge of oil to State waters. The company may appeal the penalty at a Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board meeting.

June 6, 2013

Global Diving & Salvage has finished removing the vehicles that fell in February from an Amix Marine Services Barge into Commencement Bay. Global recovered 36 vehicles in all. During the June 5 operation, a small oil sheen was observed in one of the recovery areas, likely due to an oil foam pad that Global found and removed from the bay. The faint sheen was present for less than one hour, and was not recoverable. Global began demobilizing operations today. The recovered vehicles and other materials will be off-loaded at Schnitzer Steel located in Hylebos Waterway in Tacoma.

June 5, 2013

Global Diving & Salvage recovered 17 vehicles from Commencement Bay during their first day of recovery work. Efforts continue today. According to the Department of Natural Resources, the crane removal operation was precise and no sediment was visible as the recovered vehicles came to the surface. According to Ecology, there were no reports of oil sheen on the water. Recovery work is expected to finish today.

June 4, 2013

Global Diving & Salvage of Seattle has gained the necessary permits to begin recovering scrap vehicles and any other debris that fell off the 250-foot Amix Marine Services barge anchored in Commencement Bay on February 24, 2013. The company was hired by Amix to recover the vehicles. Noninvasive underwater surveys conducted by Global identified 26 debris piles containing a total of about 30 scrap vehicles that need to be removed. The debris removal operation will utilize a derrick (crane) barge, remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) and positioning technology to minimize disturbance of bottom sediments in the bay when the crushed vehicles are lifted to the surface from depths of about 230 feet. In addition, Global Diving agreed to have specialized gear on board to return any wildlife inadvertently captured during vehicle recovery. For example, if a rockfish were to be inside a vehicle when it is brought up, the barge workers would be able to return it to the bottom quickly and safely. As a precaution, containment booms and oil-absorbent fabric such as sausage booms will be placed around the perimeter of the work area to capture any debris, oil or other materials. The exact time frame of the project will depend on conditions such as wind and weather. However, the Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) permit issued by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife specifies that work should be completed by July 23, 2013. Work on the water in Commencement Bay is getting underway today (June 4, 2013) with the anchoring of the Derrick Barge Seattle. Other equipment was previously mobilized to Tacoma in preparation for actual recovery operations that will begin as soon as all on-scene equipment is ready.

May 1, 2013

Global Diving & Salvage, Seattle, has been hired via Amix Marine Services to recover scrap vehicles in Commencement Bay that fell off a listing barge and sunk on February 24, 2013. Today, Global is conducting the first of two planned noninvasive underwater surveys for the purpose of developing a removal plan for the scrap vehicles that fell off Amix Marine Barge Z.B. 189 after it began to list. Once the removal plan is approved, the state Department of Fish & Wildlife will issue an expedited Hydraulic Permit Approval (HPA) permit and the state Department of Natural Resources will issue an Aquatic Use Authorization (Right of Entry permit) for the project. It is anticipated that the scrap vehicles will be removed within 60 days of the HPA permit issue date. Other permits may be required by City of Tacoma, Ecology, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

February 28, 2013

The U.S. Coast Guard has inspected the barge to assess its structural integrity and cleared it for transport back to Canada.

Ecology is working with other state agencies to determine requirements for removing the car bodies from the bottom of Commencement Bay. For example, the company will be required to conduct a survey of the area and obtain a Right of Entry from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources before removal can begin.

The scrap metal car bodies are considered pollution to Commencement Bay and may damage the habitat on the bottom of the bay.

A small oil sheen was reported to Ecology by Schnitzer Steel this morning, caused by rain washing residual oil from the empty deck of the barge into the waterway. Oil containment boom had been placed around the barge during the scrap metal offloading process. This precaution is part of the company’s standard practices.

February 26, 2013

All of the cars have all been offloaded from the barge. There were 1,500 tons of scrap metal on the barge.

The barge must be inspected by the Coast Guard before it can be towed back to Canada.

Reports indicate that six to 10 crushed cars fell off the barge when it was listing on February 24. Ecology is requiring that every effort be made by Amix to remove the car bodies from the bottom of Commencement Bay.

February 25, 2013

Ecology responders inspected the scene, and found no further oil sheen on the water.

The 250-foot Amix Marine Services barge was towed to the Schnitzer Steel facility for offloading after a U.S. Coast Guard inspection.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation. 

Getting the barge offloaded is responders’ first priority. Once that is accomplished, a plan for removing the cars from the 242-foot-deep water will be developed.

The barge will need to be inspected by the Coast Guard again after it is offloaded before it can be towed back to Canada.

February 24, 2013

Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound received a report at about 1:15 p.m. on Sunday February 24, 2013, that a 250-foot Amix Marine Services barge from Canada anchored in Commencement Bay was listing and taking on water.

The barge had stacks of crushed cars on it, and an undetermined number of cars fell into the 242-foot-deep water, causing an oil sheen. The barge reportedly contains no pollutants and the crushed cars were reportedly drained of all fluids prior to being crushed and loaded. Even though the cars have been drained of fluids, residual amounts of oil are present in the vehicles.

Schnitzer Steel hired Global Diving and Salvage to inspect and repair the barge’s hull. Divers located an approximately 14- to 16-inch crack in the hull, and were successful in making repairs and stabilizing the barge. The crack was about one-fourth inch in width at its widest point. The cause of the crack is still under investigation.

Canadian company Amix Marine Services, which owns the barge, retained Global for further work as needed. The items on the barge are owned by Schnitzer Steel.

News releases

Media contact

Ty Keltner, Media contact, ty.keltner@ecy.wa.gov, 360-407-6990