Sunken Towboat Update

November  29, 2013

      Despite problems caused by the weather, the cleanup seems to be going well at the grounded towboat in LeClaire. It hit something in the river Monday afternoon, and began leaking fuel and oil into the Mississippi 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 yesterday).

      "We were dealt another small blow on Thursday night as ice moved down the river. That made it somewhat harder to contain the oil, and it affected our equipment. But we're still actively breaking up the ice, collecting the oil, and containing it."

       Crews are also working to "lighter" the towboat. Fogarty says fuel and oil are being pumped out, and 74,000 gallons has been removed so far. The "lightering" process should be finished by tonight. 

       The next project will be to salvage it. 

       "We expect the salvers to be on scene this evening. But it may take several days to a few weeks for this boat to be safely lifted."

       Fogarty says 42 people, from several agencies, are working hard to protect the environment following Monday's sinking, including the Coast Guard, US 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.