Wind may have caused tug boat to sink in Columbia River, officials say

oregon tug boat sink
Oregon DEQ

UMATILLA COUNTY, Ore. — Strong winds may have caused a 38-foot tug boat to sink into the Columbia River near Umatilla on Monday, about 10 miles upriver of McNary Dam, officials said.

Ty Keltner, a spokesperson for the Washington Department of Ecology, said no people were on board when the tug boat when it sank. He said the boat was found underwater around 9:30 a.m. It was carrying about 750 gallons of diesel in its fuel tank.

Officials said the boat broke loose from its mooring Sunday night due to strong winds and drifted about three-quarters of a mile downstream before sinking.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, there was no indication that fuel has leaked into the river. Divers from contracted agencies are looking for signs of a potential leaks. They have also plugged the vessel’s fuel vents and deployed a boom around the vessel to catch any fuel that might leak, Keltner said.

A crane is set to arrive at the scene on Wednesday to pull the vessel out of the river.

The Washington Department of Ecology, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Environmental Protection Agency are handling the situation.