Robson Bight salvage phase one success – May 15th 2009

Today, after several days of preparation, and waiting for weather conditions to improve, the first phase of the Robson Bight salvage operation was completed successfully. 

The target was a cube like container filled with dozens of pails of hydraulic oil, some 1,400 litres in all, that lay amidst a field of logging equipment debris at a depth of 200m below Robson Bight.  After hours of close inspection via an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) it was decided not to lower a metal box over the container as an initial safety step, as doing so may have caused cables to snag in the surrounding debris.  Instead, the ROV was used to attach two cables to the container, and after a couple of hours waiting for deep underwater currents to slacken, the container and its toxic load was hoisted directly to the surface. 

To guard against the possibility of an oil spill, a boom was deployed downwind from the container, while several other vessels laden with additional booms and cleanup equipment stood close by.   The container was kept just below the surface for several minutes, and then hoisted onto the deck of the barge used as the base of operations.  As it was hoisted from the water, dirty brown water poured out of the container, and an oily sheen spread across the surface of the water towards the guard boom.  Crews in the boats standing by immediately set to work putting absorbant material into the water at the edge of the boom.  The small quantity of oil was swiftly dealt with, and within an hour there was no sign of it at all. 

Without question, this first phase of the Robson Bight salvage operation has been a success.  The next, and more difficult phase, removing the diesel fuel tanker, will be undertaken sometime within the next few days.

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