Towboat sinks in river in Iowa, releasing oil

NEW YORK — A towboat sank Monday in the Mississippi River near the Quad Cities-area community of LeClaire, releasing oil into the water and prompting a response from several agencies who were trying to determine how much fluid leaked, the Coast Guard said.

The Stephen L. Colby struck a submerged object about 4:30 p.m., which caused the vessel to sink. No injuries were reported. The Coast Guard said in a news release that the nine members aboard the towboat were able to make it to safety.

A representative of Marquette Transportation Co., the towboat’s operator, declined comment late Monday night.

The Coast Guard said about 100,000 gallons of petroleum products were reportedly on board the sunken towboat. It wasn’t clear how much fluid had been released into the water.

Besides the Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency and local emergency crews responded to the scene. The Quad-City Times reported that it was difficult for workers to see the fluid in the water, so they were trying to deal with the leak by smell.

A portion of the river was closed for the cleanup, the Coast Guard said.

“The Coast Guard and our partner agencies are rapidly assessing and responding to the evolving situation,” said Capt. Byron Black, commander with the Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River. “Our primary concern is to ensure the safety of people, the environment and the waterway.”

The Stephen L. Colby was built in 1967 and is 154 feet long and 40 feet wide, according to the website of the Paducah, Ky.-based Marquette Transportation Co.

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