Barge Collision and Spill Closes Mississippi River Near New Orleans

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February 17, 2012

A portion of the Mississippi was closed Friday morning after two barges collided causing an oil spill about 50 miles upriver from New Orleans.

The Coast Guard said it was notified at approximately 1:58 a.m. that a construction barge, towed by the tug Alydar, and a tank barge, towed by the motor vessel Clarence W. Settoon, collided causing a 10-foot b 5-foot gash in the tank barge above the waterline.

The tank barge was loaded with 3,535 barrels, or about 148,470 gallons, of Louisiana sweet crude oil at the time of impact and an undetermined amount of oil was released into the lower Mississippi River.  The Coast Guard did add that the amount of oil released is estimated to be substantially less than the total of the tank’s contents.

“We are aggressively responding to this incident and have deployed pollution investigators from Sector New Orleans and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans to assess the situation,” said Coast Guard Captain of the Port New Orleans, Capt. Pete Gautier. “We are working quickly and efficiently with our local and state partners to clean up product in the water and protect the maritime ecosystem and natural resources that are important to our national economy and essential to the livlihood and way of life for coastal communities.”

A section of the lower Mississippi River near LaPlace was closed after the collision but was partially reopened at 11 a.m. CST to southbound traffic. For northbound vessels, the section will be open 6:00 p.m. CST Friday to 4 a.m. CST Saturday, while southbound traffic is stopped.

No injuries were reported.

The Clarence W. Settoon is owned and operated by Settoon Towing of Louisiana

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