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Crews respond to fuel leak from sinking boat in Cape Vincent


CAPE VINCENT — About 10 to 20 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the St. Lawrence River on Friday morning when a 30-foot tugboat sank near the James Street ferry dock.

The former Coast Guard boat, built in 1954, sank about 8 a.m. Crews were able to contain most of the leakage shortly after the boat sank. The reason the boat sank has not been determined.

State Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman Stephen W. Litwhiler said the spill was not expected to have a lasting impact, though the sheen of oil may be visible on the water for about a day before it dissipates.

Also responding to the scene was the U.S. Coast Guard.

Horne’s Ferry was delayed for several hours as crews responded to the leak.

The sunken boat is owned by Thousand Islands Marine & Island Service Inc.

Mary L. Shannon, who co-owns the business with her husband, Timothy P. Beebe, said that the boat was used for small projects and for moving equipment, and that they have owned it for about two years.

Ms. Shannon said she had last seen the boat about 6 p.m. Thursday.

“I can’t think of any reason why that would’ve gone underwater,” she said.

Ms. Shannon said she and her husband maintained the boat well, spending more than $12,000 to make improvements about six months ago.

“It was very well maintained, because the river is important,” she said.

She said the boat was tied off on both sides, which is why it did not fully sink.

She and her husband learned of the sinking when they showed up at the docks around 8 a.m., when they found DEC and other responders at the scene.

“This was certainly a big surprise, and unusual for us,” Ms. Shannon said.

She said the couple’s three other boats were used to help contain the spill.

In a post on its website, Save the River, Clayton, said it was fortunate that the river was calm Friday morning, limiting the damage.

“Any spill is a wakeup call for everyone that the River is a fragile, vulnerable and challenging environment that requires all users to maintain the highest standards of maintenance to prevent it happening and preparation to respond once it does,” the group’s post said.

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