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800 tons of ash removed from stranded barge, but work on hold again

More than 13,000 tons of coal fired ash still remains onboard

Expert expresses concerns about fallout of potential spill from stranded barge

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Crews attempting to offload potentially toxic ash from a stranded barge near the mouth of the St. Johns River had to put their work on hold again Wednesday due to weather and safety concerns.

According to officials, 450 tons of the ash was taken off the barge on Tuesday and a total of 800 tons have been removed since crews began work earlier this month. The process of offloading the ash could cost millions.

There have been concerns about potential environmental impacts after the barge, which has been stranded in the ocean off the coast of Hannah Park since March 22, was damaged and began taking on water.

But the more than 13,000 tons of ash from coal fired plants onboard remained intact, according to salvage crews. The agency did not say where the ash was coming from or where it was headed, but many believe it was going to a port in Jacksonville and then a landfill in Southeast Georgia.

Surfers and environmentalists worry that it could sink or dump chemicals like mercury and arsenic into the water.

Crews said they will monitor the weather with the safety of all crew and the protection of the environment as the two top priorities of the plan.

It was not immediately clear when crews would resume work on the barge.