Sunken barge fouls river water in Antioch


In Antioch's Fulton Shipyards, what should have been the simple scrapping of a barge has turned into a minor oil spill and emergency after it sank, and then leaked as many as 15 gallons of oily fuel and water residue into the San Joaquin River.

"Any time there is oil in the water, that is too much oil," said Coast Guard Lt. Jeremy Pichette. "We have yet to decide whether the owner will be cited."

The Coast Guard responded after the first call at 9 a.m. on Thursday, with a helicopter. By 11 a.m., it had placed 500 feet of precautionary boom around the dredge barge "Headway" -- which now rests on the bottom.

"The responsible party is contracting divers to go down and secure any open tanks or vents," said Pichette.

After that, the dockyard will lift the barge out of the water.

The spill also concerned authorities from the State Department of Fish and Game and also the City of Antioch Water Treatment Plant, which has a pump nearby. At first word, Duane Anderson left a meeting to shut those pumps off as a precaution, and then took water samples for further testing.

"If there was oil, it could get into our water supply," he told reporters. "I don't believe there is any concern, but we have to wait for tests."

He expects those results by Monday. Until then, Antioch has a 10-day supply of water remaining in its reservoirs.

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