Target 12

Owner of sunken crane-barge tells DEM he cannot afford to move it

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) -- With a pricey deadline only days away, the owner of a sunken, crane-topped barge that's been poking out of the Providence river for nearly a year, says he does not have the money to remove the vessel, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

The 100-foot barge, owned by Mark Ginalski, sunk last fall near the west shore of the Providence River.

The DEM mailed a Notice of Intent to Enforce to the East Providence resident on July 31, giving him 30 days to remove it from the river, or face up to $125,000 a day in fines for five alleged violations.

DEM spokesman Mike Healey said, "Mr. Ginalski has told us he cannot afford to move the crane barge, so we are evaluating our next steps."

"Nothing is going to happen this week because Terry Gray, who is leading this action for DEM, is away at a conference," Healey said in an email.

Ginalski has a long history of maritime violations, but told Target 12 earlier this month he was "in the process of moving" the barge, saying he expected the process to be completed "in about a month."

That self-stated deadline is about up as well, but Ginalski was not available to comment on whether or not his plans are still on track.

The Providence harbormaster also served Ginalski with a summons this month that included a $500 fine and the possibility the city will remove the vessel from the river at Ginalski's expense.

Ginalski has since paid that fine according to city spokesman Victor Morente.

"The Law Department is reviewing the matter to determine possible next steps," Morente said.

The vessel, known as M.G. Marine Barge, sank last October.

Neither the DEM nor the city expressed any interest in provoking Ginalski to salvage the barge when Target 12 began asking questions late last year about why it was still submerged and listing, within view of boats and cars near Allens Avenue. 

At the time, the U.S. Coast Guard said the agency did not have the power to force the removal since it was not in the navigation channel and not an environmental hazard. 

In May, about a week after a Target 12 report on the controversy, the city harbormaster threatened legal action against Ginalski if he did not remove it by August 1.

That action turned out to be the summons and $500 fine.

Ginalski and the Coast Guard have battled for years over issues ranging from the now-sunken barge to other violations that provoked stiff fines and penalties.

In April, Ginalski claimed emergency crews did not do enough to help him save his barge, claiming they "watched it sink for three hours" instead of calling him.

photo"I had working pumps on the barge," Ginalski said at the time. "I could've pumped it out."

The barge has been sitting still in the river long enough for an osprey to build a nest on it.

Osprey are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but Healey said that would not stop the salvage, as long as the intent was to move the barge and not focused on the nest.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.


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