BOARDMAN - The effort to remove the damaged crane from the loading dock at the Port of Morrow is slowly taking shape as large support cranes are assembled at the site.
The body of the technician killed in Sunday's accident remained pinned inside the operator's cabin and likely won't be removed until the entire structure has been taken apart, said port spokesperson Lisa Mittelsdorf.
"What the plan is, is to move the entire crane to the southern part of the container yard in one piece," Mittlelsdorf said.
The "rescue" cranes should be assembled this afternoon, Mittelsdorf said this morning.
A plan detailing the recovery efforts has been issued by the port: The crane will be stabilized, lift points will be chosen and the entire structure will be lifted by the two heavy cranes. After the crane has cleared the tracks it was mounted on, it will be moved slowly to an unused site near the dock. It will then be lowered onto its side, and workers will then begin the recovery efforts and the dismantling of the structure. Divers will be needed to remove fallen debris from the water.
The process is expected to be complete by the weekend, and a statement issued by the port said the dock will "resume full operation early next week."
Two Manitowac 4600 cranes from Lampson Cranes in Kennewick were trucked to the site in pieces and are being assembled to lift the damaged machine, according to statements released from the Port of Morrow.
The cranes are generally used to build high-rise buildings, said Lampson Equipment Manager Rusty Rutherford. Both are capable of lifting more than 100 tons and weigh in at 310 tons each.
Rutherford said it usually takes three days to put together a crane that size. The team in Boardman will do it in half the time thanks to double the normal-sized crew.
Meanwhile, work crews from Kaverit Steel and Crane, the company that supplied the failed gantry crane and was testing it Sunday when a portion of it collapsed, have been welding support pieces to the damaged crane unit from platforms held by other smaller cranes. Although some workers have been climbing on the bottom portion of the gantry crane, no one is allowed on the top area for fear any added weight could collapse the structure, Mittelsdorf said.
It is still not known exactly how the deadly accident occurred. Close inspection of the wreckage shows one end of the crossbeam section fell loose and wrenched the other end, dragging support legs out of position and causing steel sections to rip from their moorings. From the ground it looks as if one side of the falling section hit the passenger cabin. The crane's hoist tore free and fell into the river below.
"There's a lot involved here," Mittelsdorf said of the recovery process.
The collapsed crane was purchased for $651,000 to replace a heavy lifting crane that had been in operation at the port since the early 1980s. The new crane was advertised to have a lifting capacity of 60 tons and is designed to lift trailer containers on and off barges at the port.
The old crane unit is still in place and operational. After the cleanup, the old crane likely will be put back into use, Mittelsdorf said, hopefully within a few days.