Mississippi river closure stops 1,056 barges as cleanup begins

30 January 2013 23:08  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Miles of barges on the Mississippi river were stopped in both directions as oil spill cleanup efforts began near Vicksburg, the US Coast Guard (USCG) said on Wednesday.

A 16-mile (26km) section of the river remained closed as a result of a barge collision on Sunday that left one of the vessels leaking light crude oil into the waterway.

The barge’s leaking tank contained approximately 80,000 gal (300,000 litres) of oil. Lightering and salvage of the damaged barges began this afternoon, with 3,900 gallons of oil-water mixture recovered, said USCG petty officer first class Matthew Schofield.

About 7,000 gal of oil is unaccounted for, with some of it probably contained in spaces of the damaged barge, Schofield said.

Schofield said the vessel backup now totals 34 northbound vessels with 532 barges and 37 southbound vessels with 524 barges affected because of the river closure. 

Back to back and at standard barge length, that many barges would stretch 39 miles or about 19 miles in each direction.

The accident occurred near mile marker 436 on the river near Vicksburg.

Response crews have put out 2,800 feet (850 metres) of boom to contain the leak, but an unspecified amount has broken through because of the difficulty in working on a dynamic and powerful river current, said Captain William Drelling, commander for the oil spill.

“Skimmers are on scene to help minimise the environmental threat of any additional potential releases,” Drelling said.

Vessels will be allowed to transit the area as soon as it is safe to do so, but Coast Guard officials cannot estimate how long the closure will last.

“We don’t have a definite timeline,” Schofield said.

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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