NEW YORK –On May 23, 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) along with Rep. Joe Crowley, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Flushing Bay advocates attended a press conference at the World Fair Marina in Queens, N.Y., to announce the completion of work to remove two abandoned barges from Flushing Bay.
The derelict barges posed hazards to both safe navigation and the environment, prompting calls to have them removed. “Flushing Bay continues to be a critical waterway for New York City as both a commercial tract and a recreational outlet,” said Rep. Crowley. “While these abandoned barges have been an ongoing challenge for the bay, I want to thank the U.S. Army corps of Engineers and in particular Col. David Caldwell, for his commitment to getting this very important project underway.”
In December of 2015 Rep. Crowley requested the barges be removed, signifying a unique challenge for USACE. The New York District conducted an extensive investigation to try and identify the barges owners, since they would’ve been legally obligated to bear the cost for removing the barges. Unfortunately, locating the owners proved difficult because all of the identifying markers had been removed. USACE, working with its partners at both the federal and non-federal level, looked for other solutions to this problem. New York District worked with the U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage to award a contract to Don Jon Marine of Hillside, N.J., for the removal of barges, Styrofoam, and other hazardous material. Don Jon began mobilization on May 19, 2016 with the arrival of a 700 ft. debris boom and the Crane Barge Michigan to perform heavy lifting and storing operations. One of the challenges in performing this job had to do with Federal Aviation Agency regulations, which prohibited the removal of the barges during daylight hours because of their close proximity to La Guardia Airport and the height of the debris boom, which posed a potential hazard to aircrafts.
These restrictions forced the contractors to execute the removal operations between the hours of 12:30-5:30 A.M. The estimated cost for the removal of the barges is between $850,000 and $1.1million.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is pleased to announce the start of the removal of the derelict barges from Flushing Bay,” said Col. David Caldwell, commander, New York District. “The barges are a navigational hazard for the Federal Navigation Channel as well as an environmental and visual concern for the surrounding communities and we’re happy that the Corps can address all three issues with one action.”
In keeping with its role as both stewards of the waterways and the environment, USACE was able to complete removal operations over a four day period with the contractor demobilizing by 4 P.M. on Monday May 23, 2016.