Towboat Oil Spill Update

November  28, 2013

      Traffic is flowing again on the Upper Mississippi River, even though oil and fuel are still leaking from a sunken towboat. EPA and haz-mat teams continue to clean up and assess the damage from Monday's oil spill at LeClaire. 

      Lieutenant Colin Fogarty, says the Coast Guard re-opened eight miles of the river late last night, upstream from Lock and Dam 14 at LeClaire. Three towboats were waiting to move on, and two others were nearby. 

      "Of course the Coast Guard opened the river only after the Army Corps of Engineers did a survey and determined that there was no impediment to navigation."

      Ron Fournier, from the Army Corps of Engineers, says Tuesday a crew used sonar to explore the nine-foot navigation channel. But, the survey did not turn up any obstructions. 

      Downstream from the spill is the Iowa American Water Company treatment plant in Davenport, the source of water for the Iowa Quad Cities. Company spokeswoman, Lisa Reisen, says the water is safe for all its customers. 

      "Those products tend to be lighter than water and so they tend to float on top of the water. So by using a lower intake, we're going to be even less likely to pull something like that into our treatment plant. And if something were to get into our treatment plant, because we monitor continuously, we're going to know almost immediately that there's an issue so we can make changes to insure that won't contaminate the water supply or cause a problem for our customers."

      As of late Tuesday afternoon, crews had collected more than 700 gallons of fuel and oil from the spill. For comparison, Reisen says Iowa American pulls 19 million gallons of water from the Mississippi every day to serve the area. 



(photo courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service)