21 August 2012 17:05 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--An 11-mile (18km) section of the Mississippi river that was closed last week because of low water levels re-opened on Tuesday, though nearly 100 vessels were waiting to move, a Coast Guard spokesman said.
The drought this summer have lowered water levels severely on the upper Mississippi river, from the states of Illinois to Louisiana. Near Memphis, Tennessee, the river level was more than 12 feet (4 metres) lower than normal for this time of year, according to the US Coast Guard.
Emergency dredging provided the necessary draft to move vessels, said New Orleans-based Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Tippets, adding that a five-mile safety zone remains within the formerly closed area near Greenville, Mississippi.
Vessels are allowed to move in that zone based on size, Tippets said.
There is a considerable backup of vessels in both directions, Tippets added: 45 northbound and 50 southbound. The Coast Guard has begun to unjam the waterway but it may take 24-48 hours to do it, he said.
“They’re going to try and get this cleared up as quickly as possible,” Tippets said.
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