CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — New technology is surfacing for pollution control on the St. Lawrence River.

Although the U.S. Coast Guard on the international waterway is known for its search and rescue capabilities, the Marine Safety Detachment team in Massena focuses on environmental hazards and incidents.

“Our main missions are environmental pollution response, marine casualty response, marine safety, as well as ballast water management,” Lieutenant Commander Carrie Foster explained.

This very often can include responding to spills following a vessel crash or grounding on the River.

However, technology has evolved and the team recently launched its remotely operated vessel, or ROV, program, which uses Deep Trekker DTG 3 devices.

ROV’s can be operated by Coast Guard personnel from docks, shorelines or boats. Through sonar navigation and high-quality camera systems, the devices can see incidents even in murky waters and dive down 165 feet.

This can be used to observe oil characteristics to identify flows as well as to see damage on vessels following incidents.

The team can now respond to spills more efficiently and eliminate the need for dive teams in hazardous situations, according to LCDR Foster.

“We’re really excited about this capability because we can more readily identify pollution sources if it’s not immediately known and if it’s under the waterline,” Foster said.

The Marine Safety Detachment team is planning to partner with local organizations and agencies for its ROV program, including Save The River in Clayton. Executive Director John Peach shared that this will change the game in pollution control.

“What I really like about this is that you can get eyes, ears out there, assess what’s going on and it’s just must quicker and safer than waiting to get a dive team out there,” Peach said.

LCDR added that partnering with organizations like Save The River, will help the Coast Guard’s effort and create more awareness through education programs.

“We’re working to get our program up and running and partner with our NGOs, local and state agencies, and that way we can be notified when it could be of use to expand the capabilities of the ROV.”