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Process To Refloat Ship Stranded In Chesapeake Bay Could Begin Saturday

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The process to refloat the Ever Forward could begin on Saturday.

This is good news for environmental experts, who have expressed concerns about the environmental impact the stranded cargo ship could have on the Chesapeake Bay.

The Maryland Department of the Environment said crews will start pulling 500 containers off the ship in hopes that it can finally move out of the Bay after being stuck for nearly a month.

Crews spent Friday setting up equipment to remove the containers.

Passersby have been coming to Downs Park in Anne Arundel County to see the stranded cargo ship.

The Ever Forward has been stuck since the night of March 13 after leaving the Port of Baltimore. Concerns are growing over when it will leave the Bay.

"We've worked so hard to clean out the Bay," Jim Maiwurm of Fairfax, Virginia, said. "That work is ongoing and just to have bunker oil spill out here would be terrible."

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is keeping a close eye on the ship.

"It's a lot of fuel sitting in the middle of the bay in a very precarious position," Chesapeake Bay Foundation Maryland senior scientist Doug Myers said. "Like I said, until it's removed safely, and there's not been a spill, we will remain vigilant about it."

The organization has been in contact with the Maryland Department of the Environment and U.S. Coast Guard to see what they're doing to make sure the ship doesn't leak.

The MDE tells WJZ that the fuel tanks are checked every four hours. The agency also said the way the ship is designed limits the potential for a fuel leak.

"The vessel is constructed with a double bottom," Geoffrey Donahue with MDE said. "So, the fuel tanks are not integral to the hull itself, so they're protected. So, should there be a puncture, something, to the hull, the fuel tanks are separate from that."

The MDE said crews can only work during the daylight.

The agency said it will take about a week to remove the containers. After that, they'll see how long it will take to pull the ship out of the Bay.

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