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Partially sunken towboat raised from Mississippi

  • Article by: DAVID PITT
  • Associated Press
  • December 9, 2013 - 5:50 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa — A partially sunken towboat was raised from the Mississippi River in Iowa on Monday, two weeks after it hit something in the river and took on water.

A large crane was rigged to the bow of the boat Sunday, and crews began the process of pulling the boat up Monday morning. As it was lifted, workers continued to pump out the remaining water, fuel and oil, Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Mariana O'Leary said.

The tugboat was carrying an estimated 99,000 gallons of diesel fuel and oil when it struck a submerged object and sank on Nov. 25 near LeClaire, along Iowa's border with Illinois and about 180 miles east of Des Moines.

Most of the petroleum has been cleaned up, according to officials. The Coast Guard said more than 88,000 gallons of oily water has been recovered from the boat and nearly 40,000 gallons of oily water from the river. The Coast Guard corrected its previous report that nearly 62,000 gallons of oily water had been recovered from the river, saying the incorrect figure was due to an error in calculations from the initial phases of the response.

"We have some that's coming out of the boat as we're kind of jostling it around but it's all contained within the booms and we're just keeping that cleaned up," O'Leary said.

Shortly after noon Monday, the cranes had the boat lifted so that it looked as if it was sitting normally in the water again, although it was still cradled by cranes, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Jaclyn Young.

Extremely cold weather moved in to the area Friday and workers have been dealing with below freezing temperatures.

"It's kind of been really slow because the cold has been freezing the river edges," O'Leary said. "We've had to break through some ice and it's been hampered by that."

A hole measuring about 12-by-30 inches along a seam on the bottom near the rear of 144-foot-long Stephen L. Colby towboat was patched so it can be towed

Once workers confirm the boat has no other damage and it's ready to move, it will be towed to a commercial repair facility at Wood River, Ill., about 300 miles downriver.

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