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Bridgeport barge could be headed to Shipyards soon

Aerials show the Bridgeport refloated and attached to tug boats that will tow it into port. (WJXT/Sky 4)

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – After three months, crews plan to move a barge stuck off the coast of Atlantic Beach.

A big tug has a line on the Bridgeport, and the Coast Guard said the barge will be towed to the North Florida Shipyards, near TIAA Bank Field.

Sky 4 aerials show the 418-foot barge has been refloated but as of Tuesday morning it had not yet begun the journey that would equate to a 20-mile trek by car.

The Bridgeport got stuck off the coast of Atlantic Beach in March after hitting the jetties.

The I-TEAM recently learned more than 9,000 tons of coal ash spilled from the barge into the ocean.

According to marine science experts, the ash contains toxic materials like lead and mercury.

And several environmental groups tell News4Jax they are concerned about the impact it will have on the environment and sea life.

The St. Johns Riverkeeper recently said, “While we don’t anticipate significant impacts to water quality within the St. Johns River from the spill, we do have concerns about ash contaminants entering the aquatic food chain, including fish that use the river.”

In a recent update from the city of Atlantic Beach, the mayor says she is in constant communication with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, adding the DEP tells her in part, “It is no less safe to swim now than it was before the cargo was discharged. There is no advisory issued and monitoring at the beach and Mayport Boat Ramp has shown no contaminants in the sand.”

Both the city and the incident response team are providing frequent updates on the status of the barge.

Crews say safety for both the community and the environment are a top priority as they work to move the barge.

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