Tribune-Courier News Editor
AURORA — Contractors for Foss Maritime have commenced operations to remove debris from the floor of Kentucky Lake.
Suzanne Lagoni, spokeswoman for Foss, said estimates and sonar scans show the lake holds nearly 1 million tons of debris. The debris fell into the lake when a span of the Eggners Ferry Bridge was destroyed by the MV Delta Mariner, a Foss vessel, on Jan 26.
“They will be salvaging debris in two sections of the lake,” Lagoni said. “The primary area will be directly under the bridge. The second area was where the ship anchored outside the channel and away from the bridge. There is a little bit in that area.”
Lagoni identified Global Diving and Salvage as the primary contractor for the operation. A crane on a barge will be provided by Southern Marine Construction. Western Kentucky contractors include trucking from Crop Production Services of Murray and recycling and disposal from Bailey Port Inc. of Calvert City.
“It will take about one month to complete the salvage,” Lagoni said. “It will depend on weather conditions, because Foss and the Coast Guard want to ensure a safe operation.”
Lagoni was unsure of the cost of salvaging.
Lt. Jason Franz, of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Paducah Office, said contractors brought equipment to the lake last week. Vessels included a crane barge, storage barges and diving boats.
“We’re going to pull up as much of the bridge as we can, load it up and recycle it,” Franz said.
Franz described the debris as bridge materials, including deck materials, steel trusses and other bridge parts that were not trapped on the bow of the Delta Mariner.
The Coast Guard will keep the waterway open to recreational and commercial traffic. Franz said during the salvage, the Coast Guard will send a broadcast notice to mariners. The notice will advise commercial traffic to slow to minimal navigational speeds when passing the bridge.
“We don’t have an exclusion zone in place for recreational boaters,” Franz said. “For all practical purposes, though, this is a construction site on the water. We’re asking people give the operation a wide berth and avoid putting themselves in harm’s way.