NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday said that response crews have completed oil spill cleanup operations on a section of the Lower Mississippi River, nearly two weeks after a barge struck a Vicksburg bridge causing the discharge of oil and a river closure that backed up barge traffic for days.
In a statement, the Coast Guard said that after extensive shoreline assessments and subsequent clean up actions, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Mississippi DEQ and the Coast Guard have deemed the cleanup complete, although agencies will continue to monitor for any environmental impacts from this spill.
The Coast Guard received notification Jan. 27 at 1:30 a.m., reporting that two tank barges, towed by the tug Nature’s Way Endeavor, allided with the Vicksburg Railroad river bridge, which crosses a portion of the Lower Mississippi River near mile marker 434. Both of the tank barges were loaded with crude oil, and one released oil into the lower Mississippi River. The leaking tank contained approximately 80,000 gallons of light crude oil.
The incident resulted in the closure of a 16-mile stretch of river that lasted for days. At one point, over 1,000 barges were lined up along banks of the river. Towboat traffic was eventually reopened on February 2nd to both north and southbound vessels.
The Coast Guard says that during the course of the cleanup 5,300 feet of boom was deployed to contain the spill and 159 workers responded to the incident.
“Due to the quick response and cooperation of all the agencies involved, we were able to resolve the situation in a safe and timely manner,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Walthour, the incident commander for the cleanup operations in Vicksburg.
There were no injuries or impacted wildlife reported. So far no estimates on how much oil spilled although the Coast Guard previously said that as of January 31, skimming vessels had recovered approximately 8,400 gallons of oil-water mixture since the incident occurred.