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Boat sinks into Occoquan

A boat that began taking on water sank in the river.

Jeff Frederickson watched a boat sink into the Occoquan River on Wednesday morning.

“It was about 11 a.m. when we noticed its port side sinking into the water, and then the bottom of the boat lift up against the dock,” said Frederickson, the dock master at Fairfax Yacht Club.

The unattended 35-foot boat started taking on water, and then its left side tilted down allowing it to sink five feet to the bottom. No one was on board and no injuries were reported.

The boat then began leaking gasoline into the river, then Fairfax fire and rescue officials and the Coast Guard were called.

Fire officials floated booms in the water to contain the gasoline seeping from the boat, said Frederickson. They look much like the booms now being used off Louisiana’s gulf coast to contain the massive BP oil spill.

Frederickson also used “oil pads” Wednesday afternoon that float on top of the water to help soak up the gasoline. He said there were no signs of oil leaking from the boat.

 The Coast Guard also used ties to secure the right side of the boat, which was exposed from the water, to the boat dock to keep it from sinking further.

It’s estimated the sunken boat caused about $5,000 damage to slip where it was docked.

Divers will be called in Thursday to place objects described as pillows that will placed under the sunken craft. They will be inflated with air, which will help right the boat. It will will then be lifted out of the water, said Frederickson.

The sunken boat drew the attention of others at the yacht club.

“Sure the boat has sunk, but everything seems to be OK, and were glad to hear it’s not oil thats leaking out; just gas, and it’s OK because gas evaporates,” said Joe Policastro of Fairfax.

*This story originally appeared on PotomacLocal.com on Wednesday June 16, 2010.

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