The West

Update: 12.40pm Salvage crews are rushing to regain control of a barge that has reportedly run aground on a reef off Cervantes this morning.

The barge was being towed by an ocean-going tug, the Miclyn Adventure, when a tow cable snapped around 3.15am.

The crew of the Miclyn Adventure were able to connect a tow rope to the barge earlier this morning in an effort to bring it back to land.

However, the rope broke when the tug attempted to move the 90m-long barge.

Department of Transport Oil Spill Response co-ordinator Matt Verney said salvage operations were underway.

"Efforts are currently focused on minimising the risk of pollution and also response preparations," Mr Verney said.

The barge was travelling north to Barrow Island, carrying concrete blocks, vehicles, construction equipment and diesel fuel under contract for gas giant Chevron.

A spokeswoman for barge operator Offshore Marine Services Alliance said their salvage crew had arrived in Cervantes about 11.30pm.

She said an inspection of the barge indicated it was not at risk of breaking apart.

"It is an unmanned barge ... the cargo is secure," she said.

"The crew of the tug are safe and are currently resting."

She said the environmental risk from the cargo was minimal and new salvage plans were being put in place.

It is carrying up to 2000 litres of hydraulic fuel.

The barge is currently sitting on the reef around 3km offshore from the Cervantes town jetty.

While the vessel is currently holding together, there are concerns the fuel could spill into the ocean if it begins to break apart.

The Department of Transport is monitoring the vessel, with clean-up crews on standby if any spill occurs.

The West understands a helicopter has been dispatched by one of the companies responsible for the barge to monitor the salvage effort.

Crews attempting to salvage the barge are battling wild weather, with swells of 5-6m being reported by local sea rescue volunteers.

While reefs off Cervantes would normally be an impassible barrier for ships, some locals are concerned the large waves could push the wreck past the reef and towards Cervantes Beach.

Maritime Union of Australia State president Chris Cain said the barge was carrying eight crew members.

Mr Cain said the union had been involved in a recent dispute with the company over crew numbers on the barges.

The West Australian

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