Reservoir Cleaning and Dam Inspection for the District of Port Edward
August 2, 2016
Ice Fishing Turns into Spring Salvage
May 24, 2017
It's alarming to think what could have happened on that winter's day when a couple drove their car into the middle of Ross Lake, just east of New Hazelton, BC, for an afternoon of ice fishing. The lake appeared frozen but it wasn't solid enough to withstand the heavy force of the vehicle. The front tires penetrated the ice and became stuck. In an effort to tow it out, the ice broke and the car submerged to rest 25 feet below at the lakes bottom.
Fortunately, the people involved were safe but this incident raised environmental concerns on how best to remove the vehicle with the least impact to the sensitive ecosystem. Normally, this type of salvage would simply require a diver to attach a tow line. However, in this case it would not work due to the damage that towing a vehicle along the lake bottom would cause to the fish habitat.
Fast Forward to April 2017
The Ministry of Environment contacted Valard Dive Services (VDS) to provide recommendations, best practices and a plan to execute the salvage operation. It was decided that once the ice melted, the car had to be lifted vertically to the lakes' surface, stabilized and towed from there to shore.
VDS is equipped for this type of operation with a specialized lift bag system and as safety is always our number one priority we clearly identified potential hazards and adhered to safe operating procedures specific to the situation in our plan.
We also had to determine the weight and account for suction, as the vehicle was buried up to its windshield in the mud. These calculations were then used to create the optimal underwater lift capacity, which had to be diligently controlled.
We did not want the object to rise to the surface too rapidly, as this could cause decompression illness and a serious overhead hazard for the diver. It was crucial that the air bags were properly secured and deployed at a consistent rate.
The vehicle was lifted successfully to the surface and with the dive boat towed to shore. Valard Dive Services provided a safe and efficient solution that used minimal impact techniques to help preserve an environmentally sensitive area.