15 November 2012 20:10 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--Low water levels and underwater obstacles on the upper Mississippi river pose an extreme threat to barge traffic on the waterway, the US Coast Guard (USCG) said on Thursday.
“This is a slow-moving disaster,” said Lt Colin Fogarty, USCG spokesman, in St Louis.
The low water stems from drought conditions in the US midwest this year. The USCG and the US Army Corps of Engineers have been working on a plan to remove rock formations, called pinnacles, and other river obstructions with explosives.
Fogarty said a depth of only nine feet in areas on the river at St Louis has made barge traffic there hazardous.
The American Waterways Operators (AWO) issued a statement earlier this month calling on Congress and the Obama administration to release water from dams on the Missouri river to raise the water level on the Mississippi between St Louis and Cairo, Illinois, beginning 1 December.
Otherwise, barge traffic on the Mississippi could be stopped by 10 December because of low water levels, the AWO said.
Fogarty said the low water and river obstacles at St Louis have created navigational hazards.
“This is extremely low water,” Fogarty said, adding that boats will run aground if it gets any lower.
“We certainly will do something,” he said. A press conference will be held on Friday, 16 November, in St Louis to address the situation.
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