Sunken tugboat being removed from Columbia River by crane

Tug Boat Removal
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

UMATILLA COUNTY, Ore. — Operations to remove a sunken tugboat from the Columbia River began on Thursday.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said they are using a crane to lift the 38-foot tugboat out of the water about 10 miles upriver from McNary Dam near Umatilla.

The DEQ posted video of the tugboat’s pilot house being removed separately because it was damaged when then the vessel sank. It was discovered underwater on Monday around 9:30 a.m.

The tugboat was holding 750 gallons of diesel fuel and approximately 50 gallons of lubricating oil when it went down. Divers plugged the vessel’s fuel vents and deployed a boom around it to catch any potential leaks.

The boat has a 3-foot rupture in its hull, which has not affected any of the vessel’s fuel tanks. The rupture is presumed to be the result of damage the vessel sustained when it broke free of its moorings on Sunday night in heavy winds.

A light sheen was observed on the river’s surface Tuesday, which officials said has been contained inside the boom. There have reportedly been no impacts to wildlife.

Officials said the vessel will likely take several hours to remove. The fuel tank has been secured and the risk of leaking is unlikely, the DEQ said.

The DEQ said precautionary measures have been put in place.