Barge Sinks

Efforts continue to raise barge mostly submerged in Tellico Lake

By Iva Butler
A 60-foot barge which contained about 125 gallons of diesel fuel remains mostly submerged in Tellico Lake after it was found to be sinking Sunday at the public boat ramp at Lotterdale Cove in Loudon County.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Division of Environmental Remediation and the barge owner are working on a plan to pump the remaining fuel out of the tank and then raise the barge out of the water.

About 400 feet of boom was placed around the site Sunday afternoon and a second 400 feet was added around the other boom Monday afternoon to make sure any spilled fuel stays in the immediate area, said EPA On-Scene Coordinator Benjamin Franco. A sheen of fuel could be seen atop the water Monday afternoon.

Loudon County Emergency Management Director Gordon Harless said emergency responders were notified the barge was sinking at approximately 8 a.m. Sunday,

The barge, which belongs to Marine Designs of Lenoir City, had a second smaller barge attached and both were anchored near the public boat dock in Lotterdale Cove, Harless said.

The main barge, which has its own motor and crane, and the smaller barge were being used to install residential boat ramps along Tellico Lake.
A float boat belonging to the company was found floating in the lake by Greenback Volunteer Rescue Squad as it was collecting debris floating atop the lake, Harless said.

The second barge was unattached from the main barge by an employee of the owner and moored to the bank on the other side of the boat ramp from where the main barge lies mostly submerged, he added. “The barge tank holds 250 gallons of diesel fuel and the owner said it was half-full,” Harless said. “There is no knowing how much leaked out. We're assuming part of it is still in there."

TVA is assisting the EPA in the cleanup effort. The Lotterdale Cove Campground swimming area was closed Sunday. The road to the ramp remains closed. Boaters that used the ramp at Lotterdale Cove area asked to use the Morganton boat ramp for the next few days, Franco said.

Agencies responding to the scene Sunday included EPA, Loudon County Emergency Management Agency, Fire and Rescue and Sheriff's Office, Greenback Volunteer Fire Department, Rural-Metro Ambulance Service, TVA and HEPACO, a private environmental cleanup company out of Charlotte, N.C.
EPA took over the cleanup up effort Sunday. “The EPA wants to move as rapidly as possible but do it in a manner causing the least disturbance to the environment,” Harless said.

Cleanup activities will continue today.