A sunken towboat in LeClaire will be raised from the water as early as Tuesday as efforts to clean up thousands of gallons of spilled oil and diesel fuel came to an end Saturday, officials at the scene said.
One diving duck has been treated by a local veterinarian after it got stuck in the oily banks of the Mississippi River and volunteers with Living Lands & Waters have tied hundreds of sparkly ribbons along at least a mile of LeClaire's shore to prevent more ducks from staging there.
Bryan Klostermeyer, chief marine science technician for the U.S. Coast Guard, was coordinating cleanup and wildlife protection efforts Saturday, overseeing a multi-agency crew of 57.
He said the environmental impact of last week's oil and fuel spill so far appears to be minor.
"Diesel is light, and it stays on top of the water," Klostermeyer said.
He said the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has tested the water downstream and the results were negative, indicating no diesel fuel under the water's surface.
The Stephen L. Colby was carrying 100,000 gallons of fuel and oil when it sank Monday afternoon near LeClaire. Nine crew members escaped.
Klostermeyer said officials have yet to determine the cause of the accident.
On Saturday, the towboat's first level and hull were completely submerged and the second level at the stern was partially under water.
As the smell of diesel fuel hung in the air and onlookers on LeClaire's Cody Road snapped pictures, a salvaging crew dropped cables to begin preparing the vessel to be lifted out of the water in a couple of days.
Randy Caverly, who is supervising the salvaging team for the U.S. Coast Guard, said one cable will run under the stern and another cable under the bow, and both will be rigged up to two cranes on a nearby barge.
Three salvaging barges, which came from St. Louis, surrounded the towboat Saturday. Caverly said water will be pumped out of the hull as the boat is lifted from the water.
Klostermeyer said he believes most of the oil that escaped the boat has been absorbed by 2,500 feet of boom, or tube-like portable barriers, placed around the towboat. The Coast Guard estimated Friday that 37,000 gallons had been sucked up out of the river.
A lightering barge also sucked 74,000 gallons of fuel/water mix directly from the towboat, the Coast Guard reported Friday.
A sheen of oil remained on the water's surface Saturday.
After several days of frigid and gusty weather, Saturday's warmer temperature, around 50 degrees, and clear sunny skies helped finish off cleanup efforts.
"It's easier on the workers," Klostermeyer said. "When it's 20 degrees, you have to be mindful of cold stress and hypothermia. When the air is warmer and the sun is shining, it helps the sheen to evaporate."