Barge removal under way at Emsworth Lock and Dam

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Jan. 22–Crews working to clear more than a dozen barges dislodged by ice and pushed into the Emsworth Lock and Dam say they are making progress now that the ice that caused the problem has melted.

But Cmdr. Leon McClain, the U.S. Coast Guard’s captain of the Port of Pittsburgh, said Sunday he couldn’t give a timetable for when the Ohio River would be cleared for full traffic.

He stressed that crews are working “with a sense of urgency” to clear the way for the 20 million tons of cargo that normally would flow through the locks on an annual basis.

“We have now transitioned to the recovery phase of the incident, whereby we are conducting salvage operations to remove barges within the area,” McClain said. “Over the past several days our industry partners as well as the Army Corps of Engineers have worked tirelessly to remove ice from the Emsworth Lock and Dam navigable channel, as well as here within the structure.”

Army Corps spokesman Jeff Hawk said that crews from the Morgantown, W.Va., Fire and Police have been using sonar devices to locate two sunken barges that could present a hazard to watercraft and that the Monongalia County office of Emergency Management has been providing the use of a drone to monitor ice flow and the state of the stuck barges.

Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675,, or on Twitter @matthew_medsger.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Waterways Council, Inc.