Canadian Coast Guard leading tugboat cleanup

The sunken tugboat Lac Manitoba in the middle of the St. Lawrence River on June 22, 2015 after capsizing in the strong current. The boat was trying to position a barge under the north channel bridge when it capsized. It was one of two tugs to go under that day. (Photo/Capt. (Ret.) Gerald Joanisse, Air Cadet League of Canada)

CORNWALL – The Canadian Coast Guard is leading the cleanup of a fuel oil spill in the St. Lawrence River Monday after two tugboats capsized within hours of each other.

The tug Lac Manitoba spilled hydraulic fluid and diesel fuel, according to the Ontario Ministry of Environment, when it capsized around 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

The other boat, LCM 131, went under trying to install a cable for the barge Tuesday night.

In a statement, Coast Guard spokeswoman Carol Launderville said the crews on the vessel activated its spill response plan and took immediate action to contain the spill.

Cleanup efforts were underway Tuesday by the Ottawa-based Eastern Canada Response Corporation (ECRC), a Transport Canada certified organization that specializes in spill cleanup.

Cornwall police shut down the waterfront dock in Lamoureux Park to all traffic until further notice in order for the agencies to do their work.

The companies that own the tugboats are responsible for their boats. The Coast Guard says they have taken measures to salvage their vessels.

The one tug, Lac Manitoba, is owned by Port Dover-based Nadro Marine Services Limited.

The company said in a statement that the storage oil tanks appear to be intact, where the ship sits in about 15 feet of water (4.5 meters).

Ministry of Environment Cornwall office involved

The Ontario Ministry of Environment is aiding the Coast Guard in its work.

“Two of our environmental officers from the Cornwall office were dispatched to assist the Canadian Coast Guard. What we were doing out there was evaluating potential environmental impacts during the recovery efforts,” MOE spokeswoman Melissa Lee told Cornwall Newswatch.

Lee said river booms were installed to keep the diesel fuel, which floats on water, from heading downstream.

She said absorbent material will be added to the water to soak up the spilled fuel.

“We’re not seeing any shoreline impacts…nothing in terms of remediation is going to be required at this stage,” Lee said.

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