WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ/AP) -- UPDATE 6/9/18 @ 3:31 p.m.
A city in West Virginia is suing the owners of a towboat that spilled oil along the West Virginia-Kentucky border earlier this year.
The Herald-Dispatch reports the boat sank in the Big Sandy River on Jan. 10. The complaint, filed this week, seeks more than $150,000 in expenses and compensation for future related costs and attorney fees.
The complaint says the towboat owners, Gate City River Transportation LLC and Western River Assets LLC, violated the 1990 Oil Pollution Act. The act says the owner of a vessel that leaks oil is liable for response costs and damages. The complaint also alleges the owners were negligent in maintaining the boat.
The city says it sent two claims to one of the owners and filed the lawsuit after they went unanswered.
UPDATE 1/31/18 @ 11:05 a.m.
Efforts have begun to salvage a sunken towboat from the Big Sandy River.
The U.S. Coast Guard, along with the W.Va and Kentucky Departments of Environmental Protection, started Tuesday to salvage Gate City.
The sunken towboat was reported earlier this month.
According to the Coast Guard, response teams have recovered approximately 1,300 gallons of oil from the Big Sandy River and 4 tons of oiled debris.
A salvage company from Pittsburgh has arrived at the scene to lift Gate City from the water. The remaining oil on the ship will be removed.
Remedial cleanup efforts will continue throughout the weekend.
The incident is under investigation.
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UPDATE 1/13/18 @ 7:53 p.m.
Kenova Water reports they’ve been given the green light to restart the Water Treatment facility. They say they’re working to have full service and normal water pressure back to the entire area within 48 hours.
The City of Kenova reports based on test results from the most recent water samples, normal pumping operations and water intake from the Big Sandy River began Saturday around 5:00 pm. They add service will be restored in stages.
The Wayne County Health Department and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection will continue monitoring water quality inside and outside of the Kenova Water facility. As a precaution, the boil water advisory is being continued until further notice.
The U.S. Coast Guard adds the salvage operations for the disabled tow boat in the river will begin early next week once heavy equipment arrives.
Bottled water has been available to water customers at Kenova City Hall. Anyone who still needs drinking water on Sunday morning is urged to stop by city hall after 08:00 am. Anyone with special circumstances who cannot come to city hall can request a delivery by calling 304-453-1631. Bottled water is limited to one case per household at this time.
UPDATE 1/13/18 @ 4:12 p.m.
The river remains open and no facilities have been affected. That’s the latest from the U.S. Coast Guard as cleanup efforts continue following a boat partially sinking in the Big Sandy River and leaking oil.
The Coast Guard said Saturday spill response teams have recovered roughly 800 gallons of oil from the river so far. The agency adds cleanup efforts will continue through the weekend.
Additionally, the Coast Guard said heavy equipment is coming from Cincinnati and will be used to salvage that boat, named Gate City.
The Kenova water intake is currently closed on the Big Sandy River, according to the USCG. The agency reports state and local officials continue “working to ensure water quality standards” before the intake is reopened.
The Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Huntington received a report Wednesday of the towboat Gate City sinking at its mooring and discharging oil into the river. Initial estimates put the oil release at 5,000 gallons of oil and diesel. Actual estimates, however, have been downgraded to roughly 1,300 gallons.
UPDATE 1/11/18 @ 10:30 p.m.
Thousands of people in Wayne County are potentially affected by the oil spill into the Big Sandy River near Butler, the state Department of Health and Human Services reports.
The agency says water service disruption is possible because of possible river contamination. It happened after a partially sunken towboat leaked oil into the Big Sandy River in the Butler area.
The DHHS reports water service may be limited for days as samples are taken to ensure the water is safe.
In the meantime, the state is in the process of helping the affected area with two 8,000 gallon tankers from the West Virginia Department of Transportation to help support the water system.
There are about 3,777 customers served by the city of Kenova water system alone.
Danny Robertson, Kenova's public works director, said the city was able to shut its water intakes before any of the spilled oil could infiltrate the water plant.
He explained that it is a critical stage as state agencies and private companies are bringing in water to assist. The city of Ashland (Kentucky) also is supplying water to help out.
Both the state EPA and DHHS have to give their approval before the intakes can be reopened.
The city of Kenova is not under a boil advisory at this time.
There are advisories in the following areas: state Route 75, Spring Valley, Centerville, Whites Creek, the town of Prichard and Barger Hill.
Meanwhile, Buffalo Elementary and Buffalo Middle schools in Wayne County will be closed Friday because of the water issues.
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The Coast Guard is on the scene of a sunken towboat that is leaking oil into the Big Sandy River near Butler, West Virginia, just south of Kenova.
Huntington's Marine Safety Unit says they received a report at 7:40 a.m. Wednesday that the motor vessel Gate City sunk at its mooring and was discharging oil into the river with a maximum potential of 5,000 gallons.
No one was on the boat at the time of the incident.
Cleanup crews are on the scene and a boom has been placed in the water to try to contain the oil and keep it from getting into the Ohio River.
The Marine Safety Unit says there is no direct threat at this time to homes or anyone nearby.
The West Virginia National Guard's 35th Civil Support Team announced Thursday afternoon that it will provide support in the overall clean-up effort. It reports that it will provide personnel for environmental sampling and monitoring.
The U.S. Coast Guard says the spill is contained to about a mile and a half stretch of the Tug River.
“The issues we are having right now some of them are with the ice on the river. It’s hard to get to the river with the steep river banks, there not being any boat ramps, it’s hard for our responders to get down and access to the oil where it’s spilling," said Chris Blank with the U.S. Coast Guard.
The boat is sunk from the main deck and below.
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