The U.S. Coast Guard says that up to 250,000 gallons of clarified slurry oil could have spilled following a towboat collision on the Mississippi River near Paducah, Kentucky on Wednesday, downgrading earlier estimates of as much as 1.05 million gallons.
The spill comes after a two towboats collided at 8:22 p.m. Wednesday at mile marker 937. The collision caused damage to at least one barge containing clarified slurry oil, a refining by-product, rupturing the cargo tank and discharging an unknown amount of oil into the Mississippi River.
The maximum potential spill has been reduced because the two remaining partitions aboard the affected barge were reportedly secured, the Coast Guard said Thursday.
A Coast Guard overflight conducted earlier Thursday revealed a five-mile discoloration beginning at the impact site.
A safety zone was put in place closing the river to all traffic except response vessels between mile markers 939-922. A queue of six upbound and nine downbound vessels had formed as of Thursday, the Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard is working with the barge owner Inland Marine Services and SWS, an oil spill response organization.
The cause of the collision is currently under investigation.