GLENCOE, Ill. (STMW) – The barges it was towing are gone, but the tugboat Kristin J is still stuck in the spot where it ran aground off the Glencoe shoreline earlier this month.

Plans to lift it onto a barge with a crane had been postponed because of the weather, said Coast Guard Petty Officer George Degner. The tugboat, owned by the Edward E. Gillen Company, was towing two barges laden with construction materials from Milwaukee. It was on its way to a pair of projects located along the lakeshore in Highland Park and Glencoe.

Crew members struggled for hours to break the boat free and notified the Coast Guard about 12:30 a.m. Oct. 3 after realizing that in addition to the fact that the boat was stuck there on the Glencoe Shoal, the hull had been breached.

Unfavorable weather conditions and nine-foot waves made it impossible to rescue the three-man crew by boat by that Sunday afternoon. The Coast Guard sent in a HH-65C Dolphin helicopter from its air base in Traverse City, Mich. for an aerial pick-up.

The Kristin J. had about 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board and the company earlier brought in Veolia Environmental Services assist in the event of a major spill. A 900-foot containment boom was deployed as a precaution. There was a minor fuel leak but it didn’t pose any environmental threat, said Glencoe Public Safety Department Deputy Chief Alan Kebby.

Crews have welded steel I-beams to the boat’s sides. Plans have called for straddling it between two barges to get the Kristin J. out to deeper water where it would be plucked out of the lake by a heavy-duty crane. It would then be put on another barge and shipped to Waukegan for repairs.

Degner wasn’t sure when conditions on the lake would be smooth enough to resume the recovery operation.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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