Great Lakes News

Great Lakes News

UPDATE: Toxic Shipwreck Cleanup Complete


There’s some good news regarding what was ominously labeled earlier this year as “the worst potential pollution threat from a shipwreck in the Great Lakes”: the U.S. Coast Guard has announced that they have finished pumping the last of toxic Benzole, an old-time petroleum product, from the shipwrecked Argo off the coast of Sandusky, Ohio.

Although historical accounts indicate the Argo was carrying up to 197,000 gallons of Benzole, the Coast Guard only removed 33,475 gallons. The Coast Guard has also lifted the safety zone restriction that was put in place around the wreck. Officials told that they aren’t sure what happened to the missing gallons that were supposed to be on board.

"It's one of those things we just don't know; if it's something that over time leaked out or what," Lt. Christopher Yaw with the Coast Guard’s 9th District office in Cleveland told

The Argo sank in October 1937 during a storm northeast of Sandusky and east of Kelleys Island. Few historical records concerning the Argo remain, but researchers believe the barge was traveling illegally, since it was not certified for open water.

The Argo clean-up operation involved 13 federal, state, local and Canadian agencies and organizations after an explorer from the Cleveland Underwater Explorers (CLUE) discovered the wreck in August and alerted authorities to an odd, chemical smell in the surrounding water.

To read more about the wreck, visit

[Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Kurt Kollar, Ohio EPA]

South Shore JUN17