August 16, 2007

Anatomy of a trash get

Mouth of the Osage River Clean-up
July 28, 2007

Photos by Jen Courtney and Lindsay Tempinson
Text by Steve Schnarr

Coast Guard navigation buoys are a common trash item to find on Missouri River clean-ups. The buoys are used to mark the navigation channel for barges. As you boat
downstream, red buoys are on your left, green buoys on your right. As river levels come up and down, bringing rafts of drift along with them, buoys become unmoored and float downstream until they catch up on shore or in drift piles.

They are extremely heavy and a super pain to get out of there. Most scrappers won't take them, because they're filled with cyanide foam. The Coast Guard used to offer bounties for them, but now they won't even take them for free. We've decided, rather than leave them on the river, to pull them out anyway and stick them in a landfill.

At the July 28 clean-up at Bonnots Mill, we had a crew of diehards working a driftpile several miles up the Missouri. Watching their creativity and sweat in getting this buoy out of there is pretty impressive stuff:

1. Members of Friends of Big Muddy and the Sierra Club tie ropes to the buoy to pull it free of the drift pile.

2. It finally comes loose!

3. They then drag and carry it to the boat to haul to shore.

4. W.T. (his first clean-up) heaves the buoy up onto the bow of the boat.

5. It take four people to safely move the buoy into MDC bobcat driver Charlie Nelson's bucket.

6. John Brady and Troy Gordon chain the buoy down before Charlie hauls it away.


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