TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - Three-dozen scrap cars that fell off a barge Feb. 24 in Tacoma's Commencement Bay have been recovered.
The News Tribune reports ( http://bit.ly/18sBRJ2) Global Dive and Salvage removed the cars last week.
The crushed cars fell into 240-feet-deep water when an Amix Marine Services barge sprang a leak and tilted.
The state Ecology Department said the scrapped cars had to be removed from the state-owned aquatic land.
The barge was taking cars from Vancouver, British Columbia, to the Schnitzer Steel recycling yard in Tacoma.
Getting the scrap metal off the bottom was important to protect marine life in the area, said state Department of Fish and Wildlife area biologist Leonard Machut.
"Brake dust to copper wiring, heavy metals that are in the computer chips and stuff like that could end up making their way into fish tissues and causing some damage to them," he said Monday.
Some creatures also try to turn such waste into makeshift homes, Machut said.
"Juvenile and adult rockfish readily colonize non-natural structures," he said. "You're actually drawing fish away from their natural habitat that's a little more suitable for them."
Having the cars out by June isn't as soon as Machut would have liked, but it was quick enough to minimize the chance for oils and metals to be leached out of the wreck, he said.
Information from: The News Tribune, http://www.thenewstribune.com
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)