The receiving vessel Philip R. Clarke arrived on scene Thursday afternoon and lightering operation started at about 5:45 a.m. Friday. The Clarke is scheduled to remove some of the taconite from the Blough in order to lighten the freighter so it can be refloated.
The safety perimeter surrounding the Roger Blough been increased from 500 yards to 750 yards.
The U.S. Coast Guard says that plans continue to progress to safely free the vessel from Gros Cap Reef through the combined efforts of Canadian partners, company representatives and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Boom remains in place at the rear of the vessel as a preventative measure against pollution and Canadian Coast Guard Environmental Response personnel are in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, with a large inventory of pollution control equipment with procedures in place for all possible ship-source spill scenarios.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be providing assistance for lightering operations and will ensure the Birch Point Range channel is safe for navigation after the Blough is removed from the grounding site.
There have been no changes in the rate of flooding and the crew remains in good condition.
A Transport Canada overflight was conducted Thursday afternoon and reported no pollution.