03 May 2013 18:18 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--An early Friday morning collision between a towboat and docked barges has resulted in approximately 300 gallons of crude oil being released into the upper portion of the Mississippi River.
According to the US Coast Guard (USCG), at about 01:00 local time (06:00 GMT), the accident occurred near Hartford, Illinois when the boat hit an area where barges were stationed causing 14 to break away from their moorings. The freed barges then hit several structures, including other docks and a barge that was engaged in loading the oil.
The accident resulted in an hour long closure of approximately a four mile stretch of the Mississippi until officials were confident that the waterway was safe for navigation. The river is currently facing higher water levels over the past two weeks as persistent rains have continued to fall in the Midwest, and that could hamper the ability to find and remove the oil with the currents running swifter.
As of late Friday morning, all 14 of the barges that broke loose have been recovered and are secured said officials, who added that an additional closure may come if deemed necessary for any cleanup effort.
While it does not appear as if rising waters contributed to the incident, USCG officials said they have not completed their investigation but that it appears the impact caused the spilling of roughly seven barrels worth of crude into the water.
The agency is presently reviewing the accident and conducting an environmental assessment but said at this time it does not appear as if any of the oil has reached the banks of the vital navigation channel.
“Our environmental assessment team has completed about 10 percent of our shoreline assessment and we haven’t seen any environmental impacts,” said Coast Guard spokesperson Colin Fogarty.
Last month, 30 barges carrying coal and grain broke free in a section of the river near Vicksburg, which resulted in a temporary closure of the river after the lead barge struck a railroad bridge.
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