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Sunken towboat leaking oil in Big Sandy River on West Virginia-Kentucky border

Staff report

The Herald-Dispatch

This aerial view shows the sunken tow boat with a boom deployed to contain the spill along with a U.S. Coast Guard boat responding to the scene.
(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

KENOVA, W.Va. — A West Virginia National Guard team has joined the response to an oil spill from a sunken towboat in the Big Sandy River just south of Kenova, on the West Virginia-Kentucky border.

The Guard’s 35th Civil Support Team is providing personnel for environmental sampling and monitoring as a part of their on-scene support to the U.S. Coast Guard, according to a state National Guard official.

 “The West Virginia National Guard is committed to assisting our civil authorities as they work through this response effort,” said Maj. Gen. James A. Hoyer, the adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard.

Chief Warrant Officer Chris Blank with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Huntington Marine Safety Unit said the unit was notified about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday that the motor vessel “Gate City” from Gate City River Transportation of Catlettsburg, Kentucky, had partially sunk at its mooring just south of Kenova in Wayne County and was leaking some type of oil.

“There was 5,000 gallons of unknown oil on the vessel, but we’re not sure at this point how much has leaked into the river,” Blank said.

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