Breakaway Barges Close Section of Mississippi River

Pin shows location of West Pointe A La Hache, Louisiana. Map courtesy Google
Pin shows location of West Pointe A La Hache, Louisiana. 

A three-mile section of the Mississippi River was closed Wednesday after 22 barges broke free, some of them hitting other vessels before they were brought under control or came to rest.

The incident occurred at mile marker 54 on the Mississippi River near West Pointe a la Hache in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana on Wednesday.

The 22 barges were all loaded with coal and petroleum coke, a coal like substance.

The Coast Guard said Wednesday that three deep-draft motor vessels transiting the river – Q Jake, Serena P and Ocean Tomo – sustained damage after colliding with a few of the barges. A portion of dry-bulk soy beans from one of the vessels entered the river and the release has since been secured. The three vessels involved in the collisions have been safely anchored.

The Coast Guard closed the Mississippi River between mile markers 51 to 54 beginning at 12:58 p.m. Wednesday. As of Thursday the river remained closed from mile marker 50 to 53.

All but one of the barges has been accounted for.

The vessel queue is 21 south bound and 18 up bound, the Coast Guard said Thursday afternoon.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.