KELLEY'S ISLAND, OH (WOIO) - The Coast Guard is investigating an unknown substance leaking from the site of a sunken barge near Kelley's Island Shoal in Lake Erie.
Underwater contractors are expected to begin searching for the source of the leak Monday.
Friday evening crews at Marine Safety Unit Toledo received a report from the Cleveland Underwater Explorers, of a leak of an unknown substance coming from the barge and an odor, but they did not see the leak underwater. CLUE divers were investigating the wreck to determine if it was the barge Argo which sank during a storm in 1937.
If it is coming from the Argo, it would be a significant discovery because the barge is on a federal list of shipwrecks that pose a potential pollution threat to U.S. waters.
"What has been reported from responders is consistent with a lighter-end petroleum-based solvent that would quickly dissipate when it reaches the air," said Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Migliorini, commanding officer of Marine Safety Unit Toledo. "Although we're still working to identify the product, the primary concern is for an inhalation hazard for the responders on-scene."
T and T Salvage has been contracted to identify and secure the leak and will be on-scene as early as Tuesday. Additionally, Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team personnel are expected to begin air monitoring on Monday to ensure safety of the responders in the safety zone and to provide response assistance.
The safety zone will remain closed to all traffic until canceled. No vessel may enter, transit through or anchor within the regulated area without permission from the Coast Guard patrol commander, Station Marblehead.
The wreckage is believed to be near the U.S.-Canadian border. Boaters are being warned to stay away.