EMSWORTH (KDKA) – More than a dozen barges filled with coal and concrete powder remain wrecked on the Ohio River near the Emsworth Locks and Dam.

Crews are working 12-hour shifts and have managed to remove two barges, as of noon Monday.

Last week’s flooding caused a large ice jam to break loose and crash into more than a dozen barges that were tied up near the banks of the Ohio River.

As a result, some barges shot straight through the dam, others crashed into the concrete barriers, some wound up on the banks of the river and seven barges sank.

On Monday, KDKA News talked with Mark Ivanisin with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about why this poses a safety risk for other boaters and those who work at the dam.

“Basically, if we have sunken barges in the navigation channel and another towboat comes by and hits it. Then, we risk another loss of another barge or another tow sinking in the river,” Ivanisin said.

Ivanisin said the barges still floating just need to be pulled out the way with the help of a tugboat, but many barges took on a lot of water.

“For those that are sunk, you have to try to relieve some of the stuff that’s in there some of the commodity that’s in there and get it out,” Ivanisin said. “And you have the pump the water out so it starts to float again and then you can pull it away.”

There’s no timetable for exactly how long the salvage crews will need to complete the job, but crews will continue to work 12-hour shifts.

Once all the barges are removed, the U.S. Coast Guard will give notice to reopen the Ohio River.

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