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Crews cleaning up fuel spill from sunken boat near Longview

Crews cleaning up fuel spill from sunken boat near Longview »Play Video
This photo taken from KATU News helicopter Jet Ranger 2 shows an oil sheen in the Columbia River.

LONGVIEW, Wash. – Government officials are working with the owner of a sunken boat Tuesday to clean up a fuel spill leaking from it.

The 75-foot Granby sunk at Willow Grove Island, which is five miles west of Longview.

Cowlitz County issued a health advisory and is asking people not to swim or fish in the Columbia River in the Willow Grove Park area until the spill has been cleaned up or has dissipated. They also say people should keep pets away from the water as well, because if the pets drink the water it could make them sick.

Officials say about 50 to 100 gallons of oil have spilled from the boat. They say there was about 600 gallons of oil and diesel aboard. Divers have pumped it out, however.

A sheen of oil about six miles in length downriver from the boat could be seen along the shoreline from Jet Ranger 2.

Crews have deployed an oil-containment boom and oil-absorbing pads around the boat.

Plans are now underway to remove the boat. What caused the boat to sink is under investigation, officials say. They think it went down overnight while sitting at a dock.

Dean Wood was the first to notice the oil on the water early Tuesday morning.

"I looked over there and the boat was gone," he said. "I mean, we've been talking about it for years. We don't know why it's still afloat."

He alerted the boat's owner who reported the spill to state authorities.

Cleanup crews will clean up as much as they can, but they won't be able to recover all of it. They'll leave it up to the environment to recover what they couldn't.

The boat's owner reported the incident at about 7 a.m. and hired contractors to help clean up the spill.

The boat's owner broke state and federal laws when the incident happened. He could face a fine or have to cover cleanup expenses. He's also responsible for setting up the crews and time to get the boat out of the water.

The Granby was built in 1929 and has a wooden hull.

According to the Department of Ecology, any oil spill will cause environmental damage. Officials are working to determine the environmental impact of the spill.

KATU reporter Erica Nochlin contributed to this report.