Oil sheen near Guttenberg under investigation

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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources and two federal agencies are investigating the source of a sheen reported Tuesday afternoon, July 28, on the Mississippi River near Guttenberg.

DNR specialists and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist spent three hours on the river Tuesday afternoon tracking the sheen up the main channel of the Mississippi. The U.S. Coast Guard is also looking for the pollution source.

Although unable to find the source, DNR staff saw traces of the sheen at least a half-mile upstream, collecting samples to confirm it was a petroleum product. Residents in the area say they’d seen the purple-blue sheen early Tuesday morning.

“Spills like this are hard to trace, because the river has some remote areas between Guttenberg and Prairie du Chien, Wis.,” said Joe Sanfilippo, supervisor of the Manchester DNR office.

“We don’t yet know if this occurred due to an accident or deliberate dumping. Either way, it could have happened in the main channel or come into the river from the shore or a tributary,” he added.

Anyone who sees signs of a spill or a fish kill should quickly call the DNR’s 24-hour environmental emergency number at 515-725-8694. “The sooner we are notified, the better the chance of finding the source of the pollution and protecting water quality,” said Sanfilippo.

The DNR has notified downstream drinking water supplies in Davenport, Burlington and Keokuk as a precaution. DNR has also informed Wisconsin and Illinois agencies.

DNR, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to investigate to find the responsible party.

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