BOISE, Ida. — A 420-foot barge was on its way Saturday to Prince William Sound in Valdez, Alaska, to become a floating base camp for 350 workers cleaning up the nation's worst oil spill, officials said.
The 100-foot-wide barge is being towed from Lewiston, Ida., via the Snake River to the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean by a tugboat and is expected to reach the oil-fouled waters in 20 days, said Jess Hawley, a spokesman for the Morrison Knudsen Corp.
The company contracted use of the barge with Exxon Corp., which is trying to clean up about 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled by its supertanker Exxon Valdez when it ran aground after running into a submerged reef in March.
When it reaches the spill site, the barge will be converted into a floating dormitory, with on-deck sleeping modules, a dining room and recreation areas, officials said.
Will Be Moved
Exxon chartered the barge for 130 days to provide crews a place to live in the remote area. The vessel will be moved occasionally as the cleanup of more than 800 miles of beaches progresses.
Built in 1981, the barge is used by the worldwide construction, engineering and design company--which is headquartered in Boise--for maritime construction projects.
On board is a crane capable of lifting 550 tons and a helicopter landing pad.
Morrison Knudsen and a joint-venture partner, Riedel International Co., a Portland, Ore., construction company, have an open-ended contract to provide logistical support for Exxon, which has promised to clean up the spill by September, Hawley said.
The partnership also will monitor the progress of Exxon's efforts to mobilize crews and equipment and will schedule the timing of the mobilization, he said.
Morrison Knudsen officials declined to disclose terms of the contract.