Last chunk of grounded barge lifted from Columbia

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CAMAS, Wash. (AP) -- Washington and Oregon environmental officials have joined with the Coast Guard to celebrate the removal of the last chunk of a derelict barge from the Columbia River near Camas, Wash.

The last section of the Davy Crockett was lifted from the water Thursday, nearly seven months after the start of a careful effort to prevent more than 33,000 gallons of bunker fuel from escaping into the river. The estimated federal costs for the project are about $20 million, which the agencies say is covered by the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

A special steel wall lined with an oilproof and waterproof membrane was built around the barge to make sure no pollution leaked.

Contractors still have to scrape sediment from the bottom of that cofferdam before dismantling it. But Ron Holcomb of Washington's Department of Ecology says the pollution threat has ended.

The 431-foot converted World War II-era Liberty Ship partially sank in January while moored near the Washington shore. The vessel buckled due to structural instability and about 70 gallons of oil reached the river.