Sinking tugboat releases thousands of gallons of diesel into the Tennessee River in Alabama, prompting calls for swimmers to get out of the water, police say – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports | Fort Lauderdale


(CNN) — Thousands of gallons of diesel were released into the Tennessee River after a tugboat sank in northwest Alabama, prompting calls for swimmers to get out of the water after the fuel began washing up on nearby shores, authorities said Sunday.

The tugboat sank near O’Neal Bridge and began to release roughly 3,000 to 5,000 gallons of diesel into the water, the Florence Police Department said in a news release.

“Diesel fuel has began to wash up the beaches of McFarland Park,” the department added.

People who were swimming at McFarland Park in Florence were asked to get out of the water, according to the release. The park is a popular destination for families that features a beach area, fishing piers, playgrounds and campsites, according to the city’s website.

“Please stay out of the water and off the beaches until further notice,” the release read.

A photo released by Florence police showed an iridescent sheen floating on the water near the bridge.

No one was aboard the tugboat when it sank, and it’s unclear what caused it to go down, the city of Florence and Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency Director George Grabryan told CNN.

Clean-up operations and work to raise the boat were suspended at dusk, and will resume in the morning, Grabryan said. “They have got the area boomed off as to not let this get any worse than it already is, so we’ve got some containment in place,” Grabryan added.

Booms were set up around the tugboat itself and across the channel area, coming out of the Port of Florence, according to Grabryan.

“There will be a crane out there in the morning to assist, and they’ll continue their pumping operation to get the fluid and water out of the tug so it can be raised,” Grabryan added.

CNN has reached out to the police and Environmental Protection Agency for more information.

Florence is approximately 73 miles west of Huntsville.

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