By Amy Wadas

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EMSWORTH (KDKA) – Dozens of barges broke free and ended up getting stuck at a lock and dam along the Ohio River over the weekend. Now, crews are coming up with a plan to clear the river.

The United States Coast Guard has declared the area near the Emsworth Locks and Dam a safety zone after several barges broke away from Jack’s Run Fleeting early Saturday morning.

KDKA’s John Shumway Reports:

“So, what we’re looking at doing today is hopefully breaking up some of the ice that’s collected in the area. So, once we get the ice broken, we’ll start to get equipment in there to facilitate overall removal or salvage of the barges,” Coast Guard Cmdr. Leon McClain said.

A total of 27 barges broke free due to flooding and ice jams. So far, 25 have been accounted for. Fifteen were visible at the dam, but several have since disappeared.

“There are approximately five barges that ended up going through the Emsworth Locks and Dam then proceeded on past Dashields Locks and Dam. It’s our understanding that one ended up as far as Aliquippa,” McClain said.

Other barges are believed to have sunk in the river. As a result, no vessels are allowed through the area.

Emsworth Locks and Dam has stopped operations until things are back to normal, which could take some time.

“The vessels are moving commodities that are so important to the delivery of fuel, heating, electricity to the homes around the region,” Kathy Griffin, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said.

Fortunately, the Emsworth Locks and Dam was not significantly damaged and there are no environmental concerns from pollution.