Towboat sinks near levee, spills fuel into Mississippi River (UPDATE)

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(LECLAIRE, Iowa) — A towboat struck a submerged object and sank Monday next to the LeClaire levee on the Mississippi River, spilling an unknown quantity of fuel, the Quad-City Times reported. The 144-foot Stephen L. Colby, operated by the Marquette Transportation Co., was carrying 1,100 gallons of oil and nearly 90,000 gallons of fuel. All nine crewmembers made it safely ashore.

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The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(ST. LOUIS) — The Coast Guard captain of the port reopened the Mississippi River from mile marker 493 to mile marker 501 on the upper Mississippi River at approximately 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The Coast Guard, Illinois EPA, Iowa DNR and local emergency crews continue to respond to oil discharge into the Mississippi River near LeClaire, Iowa from the partially submerged towboat.

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.

By Professional Mariner Staff