Unified Command approves lightering plan for sunken towboat in upper Mississippi River

D8 Logo
ST. LOUIS — The Coast Guard, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services and local emergency crews continue to respond to oil discharge into the Mississippi River near LeClaire, Iowa from a partially submerged towboat.

The river was reopened at 6 p.m., Tuesday.

The unified command has approved a lightering plan of the towboat that will help prevent future oil from entering the water. Lightering is a process by which oil is pumped off a vessel and deposited on a lightering barge.

Members from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources conducted several tests of the water column and determined their was no oil present below the surface.

An overflight photo taken of the Stephen L. Colby, a towboat which struck a submerged object causing it to partially sink near LeClaire, Iowa. The Coast Guard, Illinois EPA, Iowa DNR and local emergency crews continue to respond to oil discharge into the Mississippi River, Nov. 27, 2013. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services)

An overflight photo taken of the Stephen L. Colby, a towboat which struck a submerged object causing it to partially sink near LeClaire, Iowa. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services)

U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services officials are on scene developing methods to prevent waterfowl from becoming contaminated by the oil. They are also forming response plans for any waterfowl that do get into the oil.

The Coast Guard and partner agencies will be working through the Thanksgiving holiday.

“While all of us had other Thanksgiving plans, there is no other place that we would rather be or need to be at than LeClaire, Iowa,” said Lt. Colin Fogarty, incident management chief for Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River. “Many of us joined public service to protect the environment, and our operations here are working to restore the beautiful waterfront area here to its original pristine condition.”

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River received a report at approximately 4:30 p.m., Monday that the 144-foot towboat Stephen L. Colby struck a submerged object near LeClaire causing it to sink. At the time of the sinking, nine crewmembers were aboard and all were able to make it to safety.

The Captain of the Port closed the Mississippi River from mile marker 493 to mile maker 501 on the upper Mississippi River to allow for safe, effective cleanup and salvage operations. Coast Guard personnel, along with Illinois EPA and local emergency response crews, are taking action to minimize environmental damage.

Approximately 100,000 gallons of petroleum products are reported to be on board the sunken vessel.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Related Posts

Comments are closed.