Ice Causes Problems At Towboat Scene


High winds carried what was contained oil further into the river overnight on Wednesday, leaving crews scrambling to clean-up.

"The biggest hindrance at this time is weather," said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Colin Fogarty. "We have boom out there, we have men out there, we have skimmers out there, and all sorts of equipment."

The wind has since died down but the frigid conditions are also interfering with operations.

"It's not just cold temperatures, it's not just cold hands, it's actually freezing water," said Fogarty.

"Ice is a big inhibitor to our operations although it's not insurmountable. Ice can push our boom out of the way, it can trap the oil, and it inhibit our devices."

Equipment moves more slowly when conditions are icy and materials used to attract and soak up the oil don't work as well in ice, either.

"We have to break up the ice, be sure more ice is not coming into the zone, and make sure that our equipment is constantly being cleaned," Fogarty said.

Still, there is good news. Some heavy duty machinery has finally arrived to ensure any oil left inside the towboat never reaches the river.

It's called a lightering barge and it's purpose is to draw fuel straight from the towboat. So far, it's recovered 75,000 gallons of an oil-water mixture and coast guard officials say it's a step in the right direction.

"No, matter what we're going to collect this oil and get the environment back to the way it was before this happened."

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