About 4,850 gallons of diesel fuel and oil spilled into the Illinois River near Hardin, Coast Guard officials said Sunday.

Three tugboats tied together were transporting the oil and fuel sank into the river on Sunday at mile marker 21. It was first reported to the Coast Guard that the boats might be sinking on Friday.

Coast Guard officials have assessed roughly 11 miles of the river and are working with the tugboat company to contain, remove and prevent the fuel from moving downstream.

Devices called “booms” have been implemented to contain as much as the oil and diesel as possible. The booms work to guide the substances into an area where it can be absorbed and removed.

Hardin is 60 miles northwest of St. Louis.

An excavation crew is planned to arrive later this week to attempt to remove the tugboats from the river, Fox 2 News reported Sunday. As of Monday, the tugboat vents from which the fuel leaked are believed to have been shut off by a team of divers, the release stated.

“While ensuring responder safety is always paramount, minimizing any potential environmental impact is a clear goal of the salvage effort,” said Capt. Scott Stoermer, commander of Sector Upper Mississippi River. “I am encouraged by the committed effort of the vessels’ owner.”

The sinking of the three tugboats is expected to cause “major” marine casualties and is currently under investigation.



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