LECLAIRE, IOWA – Members of the Stephen L. Colby Response Unified Command observe the lifting and refloating of the 144-foot towboat near LeClaire, Iowa Dec. 9, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
The sunken Stephen L. Colby has been lifted from the bed of the Mississippi River more than two weeks after the towboat struck a submerged object and sank along the riverbank near LeClaire, Iowa, spilling oil.
An update Monday from the unified command set up in response to the incident said that salvage crews on Monday were able to commence lifting operations of the 144-foot towboat. Over the weekend, crews were able to make final preparations for the lifting even as weather conditions deteriorated, with below freezing temperatures, snow and ice forming along the river.
Efforts to contain and clean up oil discharged from the vessel have been ongoing since the towboat, owned by Marquette Transportation, struck a submerged object and partially sank at approximately 4:30 p.m on November 25 with approximately 100,000 gallons of oil onboard. The river was closed for more 24 hours as crews raced to cleanup and contain the oil spill.
The two-week response has consisted of Coast Guard, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services and local emergency crews, who have worked around the clock and over the Thanksgiving holiday to minimize the environmental impact from the spill.
The Unified Command says approximately 39,900 gallons of oily-water mixture has been recovered from the river, corrected from early reports that stated 61,970 gallons had recovered from the river. In addition, 89,000 gallons of oily-water mixture recovered from the Stephen L. Colby, and more than 6,800 cubic feet of oily waste has been collected, according to the update Tuesday.
The incident remains under investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard.
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