Barge with 80,000 gallons oil hits bridge, leaks

  • By Janet McConnaughey

    Associated Press January 27, 2013
The towboat Nature Way Endeavor banks a barge against the western bank of the Mississippi River Sunday. The river was closed to all traffic eight miles north and south of Vicksburg, Miss. - Associated Press

VICKSBURG, Miss. – A barge carrying 80,000 gallons of oil hit a railroad bridge in Vicksburg, Miss., Sunday, spilling light crude into the Mississippi River and closing the waterway for eight miles in each direction, the Coast Guard said. A second barge was damaged.

Investigators did not know how much had spilled, but an oily sheen was reported as far as three miles downriver of Vicksburg after the 1:12 a.m. accident, said Lt. Ryan Gomez of the Coast Guard’s office in Memphis, Tenn.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the second barge also hit the bridge or if it ran into the first barge, he said. The first barge was still leaking Sunday evening, and emergency workers set out booms to absorb and contain the oil, Gomez said. The river’s closure halted at least five northbound and two southbound vessels, he said.

The bridge was found safe for trains, said Petty Officer Carlos Vega.

Both barges were being pushed by the tugboat Nature’s Way Endeavor. The website for Nature’s Way Marine LLC of Theodore, Ala., identifies the vessel as a 3,000-horsepower, 90-foot-long boat, making it the largest and highest-powered of the company’s five tugs. It was built in 1974 and underwent a complete rebuild in 2011, according to the company.

A company manager referred calls to the Coast Guard command center at Vicksburg.

The Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Vicksburg sent a team to assess the spill and oversee the cleanup, a Coast Guard news release said. The agency said a command center at Vicksburg included representatives from the Coast Guard and Nature’s Way, as well as local officials and law enforcement.

The lower Mississippi River last closed because of an oil spill for less than a day last February, after an oil barge and a construction barge collided, spilling less than 10,000 gallons of oil. The oil barge was hit above the water line. In 2008, a fuel barge collided with a tanker and broke in half, dumping 283,000 gallons of heavy crude into the waterway, and closing the river for six days.

The oil sheen from Sunday’s incident was unlikely to pose a threat to the Gulf of Mexico, located 344 river miles south of Vicksburg.

Residents and businesses in Gulf Coast states are still recovering from the April 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers and spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Grandson of former Michigan coach dies

Excerpts from emails between Coke, anti-obesity group released

Obama, Hollande pledge solidarity against ISIS

Clintons collected $35M from financial businesses since 2001

Youngest U.S. chess master, 10, says more work to be done

Chicago cop expected to be charged in teen’s death

Washington’s weeklong power outage impeding on Thanksgiving

Minneapolis police say 5 shot near protest scene

Minneapolis police say 5 shot near Black Lives Matter protest scene

Adele Mailer, former wife of Norman Mailer, dead at age 90