Coast Guard concludes Mississippi River cleanup

Amy Kent/Clinton HeraldThe United States Coast Guard Pollution Response team was on site Thursday to finish clean-up operations on a reported “sheen in the water” along the shoreline near the Big Slough Recreation Area in Thomson, Illinois.

THOMSON, Ill. — A two-day clean-up effort has concluded near Thomson’s Swan Lake after reports of a sheen on the water in the Mississippi River.

The United States Coast Guard received the report around 11 a.m. Tuesday which led investigators with the Coast Guard and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to discover approximately 75 yards of uninhabited shoreline had been contaminated with an unknown pollutant.

Officials are working to determine whether the substance discovered is the result of an oil spill, but according to Lt. Luke Woods with the USCG Public Affairs office, those results will remain unknown until the investigation concludes.

“We can’t confirm right now what it was, but all known and removable product has been removed,” Woods said. “We will investigate any and all possible avenues to find out what happened.”

Those avenues may include outreach to river workers along bridges and area locks and dams, Coast Guard investigators and any other sources those investigators can tap into.

What is important at this point, said Woods, is the clean-up efforts of the unknown pollutant were successful and long-term damages to area habitats and wildlife should not be an issue.

“On Tuesday, the Coast Guard, the Fish and Wildlife Services and the Sabula Fire Department managed to get a containment boom put up pretty quickly,” Woods said. “Then we contracted a private clean-up company, that spent all day (Wednesday) and a good part of Thursday on the clean-up operation, which is finished now.”

Clinton Herald Staff Writer Amy Kent can be contacted at

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