Bridgeport barge reaches final destination at Jacksonville shipyards

Bridgeport Barge being towed down the St. Johns River on Friday. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Bridgeport barge, which became stuck off the coast of Atlantic Beach in March after hitting the jetties, reached its final destination at North Florida Shipyards near TIAA Bank Field on Friday.

The barge carrying toxic ash had been stranded off Atlantic Beach after a tugboat that was pushing the 418-foot vessel lost control in rough weather, crashing into 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.

The unified response team said it worked to move the barge into a safe berth without affecting the health and safety of the community, responders or the environment.

The Coast Guard approved a plan to perform the 5-hour test tow at 5 knots, which was conducted south of the St. Johns River earlier this week.

The team said water was removed from the cargo hopper Monday and about 4,000 tons of cargo remain on board the barge, which was stable and securely afloat.

Several environmental groups tell News4Jax they are concerned about the impact the 9,000 tons of spilled coal ash will have on the environment and sea life.

RELATED: State releases assessment from grounding of barge Bridgeport off Atlantic Beach

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection also released the sampling and assessment results that were taken in the waters near where the barge was stranded.

The DEP took samples from 44 points on the sea floor near the Bridgeport and 17 pits along the shoreline. The 17 shoreline pits were all clear.

Four samples showed trace amounts of mercury, arsenic, cadmium, nickel and copper, near the barge, but nothing that exceeds their standards.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.