Barge pollutes Columbia


A converted Liberty Ship from WWII has split open and is leaking oil into the Columbia River.

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A converted Liberty Ship from WWII has split open and is leaking oil into the Columbia River.

The Davy Crockett split open around Jan. 27 after someone removed parts for scrap, and is just one of the many hazardous ships posing a risk to the river.

Regulators say the Davy Crockett is leaking lubricating oil, fuel oil and some diesel at unknown volumes from an unknown source, with low levels of carcinogenic PCBs potentially in the spill. It’s outside the Columbia’s shipping channel.

Nobody seems to have a firm count, but Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, said he and other advocates see hundreds of derelict vessels moored across the region in industrial areas and back channels.

They’re older, so they often contain asbestos, arsenic and PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, an industrial lubricant largely outlawed decades ago. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified PCBs as one of the Columbia River’s top toxic pollutants. The vessels amount to “floating toxic waste dumps,” VandenHeuvel said.

Read more at OregonLive.com.

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