Towing Vessel Omaha salvage operations underway

ST. LOUIS – The Coast Guard, in coordination with owners of the towing vessel Omaha, contractor Okie Moore Diving and Salvage, and federal, state and local agencies, have begun implementing an approved salvage plan. Today, divers are placing equipment around the Omaha in an effort to raise the Omaha possibly tomorrow or Friday to further assess damage.

Additionally, the owners of the Omaha have hired Environmental Restoration to work with the Coast Guard in placing absorbent boom in several areas along the Missouri River and its tributaries to prevent environmental impacts in the event more fuel is leaked. “Placing boom with such swift river currents is normally unheard of,” said Lt. Cmdr. LaDonn Allen, Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River.

The total amount of fule spilled is unknown at this time. “Previous media reports have indicated a specific total of fuel spilled; however, we cannot make an accurate assessment of the amount until the vessel is raised and the fuel tanks can be surveyed,” said Allen.

The Missouri River water level has reached its peak today and the forecast indicates it will recede over the next several days while the salvage is taking place.

“We have been working closely with the owners of the vessel, proactively taking necessary precautions and actions to ensure the safest and most effective salvage operation is being conducted,” said Allen.

Agencies involved include the Army Corps of Engineers, St. Charles Emergency Planning Committee, Metro Air Support, St. Charles County Sheriff, Environmental Protection Agency, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Water Patrol, Twin Rivers Search and Rescue, City of St. Louis Water Division and the River Point Fire and Rescue.

A portion of the Missouri River between mile markers 10.5 and 11.7 remains closed to commercial traffic and recreational boaters are urged to exercise extreme caution in the area of the incident.

At approximately 2:00 a.m. Friday, May 30, the towing vessel OMAHA reported to the Coast Guard that they were taking on water with 7 persons on board. In order to mitigate the risk to the crew, the vessels crew intentionally grounded the vessel along the bank of the Missouri River and used mooring lines to secure it to the shore. The crew was safely rescued and there were no reported injuries.

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