Tug Nova Columbia River sinking

(Information on this site is considered to be accurate at the time of posting, but is subject to change as new information becomes available.)

At around 9:30 a.m. Monday, 2/24/20, the 38-foot Tug Western Nova was discovered sunken in the Columbia River.

During the night, the vessel broke loose from its moorings due to high winds. Those winds pushed it about ¾ mile where it sank approximately 10 miles upriver of the McNary Dam. The vessel was holding 750 gallons of diesel when it went down.

HME Construction is the owner of the tug.

Summary information

Date of incident:  February 25, 2020

McNary pool of the Columbia River

Type of incident: Diesel
Cause of incident: High winds
Responsible party: HME Construction

Status updates

February 24, 2020

State and federal agencies are responding to a sunken 38-foot tugboat on the Oregon side of the Columbia River about 10 miles upriver of McNary Dam near Umatilla.

Oregon DEQ, Washington Ecology and EPA are coordinating with fish and wildlife agencies and tribal governments on the response.

Divers plugged fuel vents this afternoon and the vessel is not actively leaking. The tugboat reportedly has about 750 gallons of diesel on board and is completely submerged.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Washington Department of Ecology and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are overseeing operations and investigating to determine if any fuel has been released. Responders are deploying containment boom this afternoon and evening around the tugboat.

A crane is scheduled to arrive on site Wednesday to lift the vessel out of the water.

Responders suspect the tugboat broke loose from its mooring Sunday night due to strong winds, which pushed it about three-quarters of a mile upriver. There was no one on board when the vessel began drifting. The tugboat is called Tug Nova and is owned by HME Construction.

News releases

Media contact

Ty Keltner, Communications, ty.keltner@ecy.wa.gov, 360-515-6868

Laura Gleim, Oregon DEQ, 541-633-2030, gleim.laura@deq.state.or.us