A tug boat carrying 4,000 gallons of diesel and 100 gallons of lube oil sunk in the Mississippi River around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, officials said. No one was on the vessel at the time and no injuries were reported, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Alex Washington.
The chemicals were contained and had not released into the water as of 9:50 p.m., Washington said. The Coast Guard was on the scene at mile marker 135 near LaPlace, about 200 feet from the West Bank, to monitor the potential pollution.
According to initial reports, the crew in charge of the GE Capital Commercial Inc.-owned tug boat “Saint Paul” was in the process of changing shifts while “dewatering” the vessel’s stern, Washington said. It was unclear why there was water in the stern in the first place, Washington said.
At some point, the pumps failed to remove the water from the stern fast enough and the vessel began to sink, he said.
The Coast Guard has a response team assessing the situation; if a visible sheen appears, a boom will be deployed to contain the spill, Washington said.
Addressing the pollution issue is the top priority, Washington said. Once the chemicals are taken care of, the next step will be to lift the boat out of the water, which is the company’s responsibility.