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Diving for junk in Ogdensburg, no empty hands

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OGDENSBURG — This stretch of the St. Lawrence River is a little cleaner than it was a month ago.

On Aug. 31, a team of 20 divers, boat operators and line handlers from the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad and Blue Fin Diving of Flackville, with two employees of the city Department of Public Works, dove in 25 feet of water up to 50 feet off shore to remove debris from the St. Lawrence River along the city docks.

“Among the debris removed were over 30 bicycles, two shopping carts, two ‘Do Not Feed the Birds’ signs, a park bench, a computer, several car parts, numerous bottles and cans, and a debit card,” said R. Storm Cilley, the squad’s treasurer and dive master. “Enough debris was removed in approximately two hours to fill a city dump truck to overflowing.”

Mr. Cilley said the cleanup went well.

“We really didn’t know what to expect,” he said, adding that the divers knew they hardly made a dent in removing years of submerged debris.

“We probably got less than 1 percent of what was down there,” Mr. Cilley said.

And there may be another dive.

“We’ll probably do it next year,” Mr. Cilley said. “We’ll call it ‘Diving Against Debris.’”

The squad organized the cleanup as a community service obligation for having recently received from a California foundation a $2,500 grant to purchase scuba equipment.

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