Upper Mississippi River Reopens After Spill

Mike Schuler
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November 27, 2013

The Coast Guard, Illinois EPA, Illinois DNR and local emergency crews continue to respond to a vessel sinking and oil discharge into the Mississippi River near LeClaire, Iowa, Tuesday, November 26, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The Coast Guard captain of the port has reopened a section of the upper Mississippi near LeClaire, Iowa that had been closed for over 24 hours due to a sunken towboat and oil spill.

The Stephen L. Colby, pictured here on November 26, 2013, struck a submerged object near LeClaire, Iowa causing it to sink Monday evening. U.S. Guard Photo
The Stephen L. Colby, pictured here on November 26, 2013, struck a submerged object near LeClaire, Iowa causing it to sink Monday evening. U.S. Guard Photo

The U.S. Coast Guard says that at approximately 6 p.m. Tuesday the captain of the port reopened the river from mile marker 493 to mile 501 in Iowa.

The section had been closed since Monday evening when the 144-foot towboat, Stephen L. Colby, struck a submerged object and partially sank close to shore. All nine crewmembers made it off the vessel safely.

The Coast Guard has not released details on just how much of the 100,000 gallons of oil reported to be onboard the vessel has been discharged, but an update Tuesday said that 700 gallons of oily water mixture had been recovered through skimmers and absorbent boom and that the vessel continued to discharge product at a reduced rate.

The Coast Guard’s update Wednesday said that the Coast Guard, Illinois EPA, Illinois DNR and local emergency crews are continuing their response and are taking action to minimize environmental damage.

The vessel remains partially submerged in the river.

The Stephen L. Colby is owned by Marquette Transportation and was built in 1967.

The cause of the incident is still under investigation.

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