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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

A small amount of fuel is leaking into the Mississippi River from a tug boat that sank not far from Jefferson Parish's water intake in Marerro.

According to the Coast Guard, the 'Altro Donna' was making the bend near Westwego heading down-river with eight empty barges, when for some reason, it moved close to the west bank and struck a submerged piling.

'At which time she started to take on water and tied up at the Commodore Dock and exited the vessel for their own safety, shortly after the vessel sunk,' said USCG accident investigator Lt. Brett Sprenger.

Woody Yandle operates the small dock where the captain and two crew members escaped the sinking vessel.

They thought that they were just going to be able to tie up and just pump the boat out,' said Yandle.

'After they tied up they realized that the boat was really sinking so they were able to get off the boat, on the barge and the boat hung on the wires that were connected to the barges for a little while and then broke and went straight down.'

Sonar located the tug in 75 feet of water, directly underneath the barges. The boat had about 12,000 gallons of fuel onboard when it sank.

Friday afternoon, there was a slight sheen on the water and the smell of fuel in the air.

Jefferson parish leaders say so far, the spill has not effected the nearby water intake system.

'If we start to see more fuel come up then we would know that we have a bigger problem,' said JP Council Chairman Chris Roberts. 'Right now, it looks like you're just starting to see some of that come out of the vents.'

The owner of the vessel is Jefferson, La.-based Octopus Towing. It hired a clean-up crew which contained the spill with boom. The company plans to float in a crane to raise the tug.

According to the Coast Guard salvaging that tug boat will be an all day event, possible as early as this weekend.

The Coast Guard also says it will have to stop river traffic as crews pull that tug boat to the surface.

The captain of the tug submitted to drug and alcohol testing which is standard procedure.

Investigators are also looking at environmental conditions such as weather, wind and water current at the time of the accident.

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