July 25, 2014

Coast Guard says clean up of sunken towboat on Mississippi going well

Cleanup seems to be going well at the grounded towboat in LeClaire despite problems caused by the weather. The tow hit something in the Mississippi River Monday afternoon, and began leaking fuel and oil into the River. Coast Guard spokesman, Lieutenant Colin Fogarty, says the wind shifted unexpectedly Wednesday night, letting some oil out of the containment area. But it was rounded up and pumped out by Thursday.

He says ice moved down the river Thursday, making it tougher on them to collect the oil and impacting their equipment. “That being said, we are still actively breaking up the ice, collecting the oil, and containing it,” Fogarty says. Crews are also working to make the towboat lighter. Fogarty says fuel and oil are being pumped out, and 74,000 gallons have been removed so far.

The next project will be to salvage the boat. “It may take several says — even maybe a few weeks — until this boat can be lifted.  Our primary concern with all this is always safety,” Fogarty says. ” Unless we can ensure that we can safely remove this vessel, we are going to hold fast and make sure we can do it safely.”

Fogarty says 42 people, from several agencies, are working hard to protect the environment following Monday’s sinking, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Iowa DNR, and Illinois EPA. They’ve only found one bird, a mallard, in the oil so far, and it’s now being cared for at a wildlife rehabilitation center.