Barrels Back?

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According to a report at Wisconsin Public Radio printed in the Duluth News Tribune this morning (Friday, August 17, 2012), the Defense Department/Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa barrel retrieval from Lake Superior project is completed. I took these pictures on Tuesday, August 14th as the tug Champion/barge Kokosing came under the Aerial Lift Bridge, presumably 20120814_4924with 70 barrels on board that they retrieved and will now test. While they were working in the Lake, the U.S. Coast Guard established a 700 foot safety zone around them. There was no safety zone as they came into port on Tuesday, so we assume we were safe, although they have not yet tested the contents of the barrels. As is said by officials whenever there is an incident at a nuclear power plant, ‘… at no time was the public in any danger.’ The tug/barge departed Duluth this morning at 6:47. See previous report here on August 7, previous report here on August 6. Click pictures for larger version.

ROV – Remote Operated Vehicle

Click to enlargRight along with the Mars walking, picture-taking Curiosity, the Lake Superior barrel retrieval project has its own remote camera, although it operates on the bottom of Lake Superior, a hard place to do business but nothing like going to Mars to do it.

The picture at the left is an enlargement of the previously published picture of the barge. The ROV, as it is called, sits within the silver colored rigging seen here on the barge Kokosing. The ROV is sent down to the bottom of the Lake where the barrels are located and gives the operators above their first opportunity to evaluate the condition of the barrels. (click picture to enlarge)

Barrels coming up from Lake Superior

Between 1958 and 1962, some 1,500 or so 55-gallon barrels were dumped into Lake Superior by the Department of Defense in three locations roughly 4 miles east of Duluth. For years, there has been much controversy and speculation regarding the safety of the barrels and their contents. The Department of Defense believes they are filled with concrete and scrap munitions. Others, including environmentalists and specifically, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, suggest there could be some more dangerous contents that might include radioactive material.  For the current work, the Department of Defense is paying the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior tugchampiondabraujuly312012IMG_4448Chippewa about $2.2 million to recover the barrels as part of a federal program to clean up dump sites near or on reservation lands.The tug Champion and barge Kokosing are being used for the work. They were in Duluth in late July and early August, leaving Duluth on August 2nd to begin work.
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They will try to bring up and/or test about 70 bargekokosingdanraujuly312012-IMG_4446barrels from a variety of places where the barrels are located to provide a range of possibilities of what the contents of all the barrels might contain. It is potentially hazardous work and the Coast Guard has set up a safety zone around the rig, 700 feet in all directions. The work may take as long as 2 weeks. Pictures here were taken by Dan Rau on July 31, 2012 in Two Harbors.