A 16-mile stretched of the lower Mississippi River near Vicksburg remained closed Wednesday as response crews scramble to clean up and contain an oil spill from a barge damaged after striking a bridge early Sunday morning.
“Despite the response crew efforts to contain the seeping oil, an unspecified amount has broken through the containment boom due to the difficulties of working on a dynamic and powerful river current,” said Capt. William Drelling, Federal On Scene Commander for the Vicksburg oil spill. “Skimmers are on scene to help minimize the environmental threat of any additional potential releases.”
An update by the U.S. Coast Guard said that approximately 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, a tow-barge began the process of removing fuel from the damaged MOC-12 barge. The update added that response crews have deployed 2,800-feet of boom in the vicinity of the spill and skimming vessels have so far recovered approximately 3,900 gallons of oil-water mixture.
Meanwhile, the Mississippi River remains closed for a 16-mile distance between mile marker 425 and mile marker 441 near Vicksburg, MS. However, the Coast Guard says that the unified command is working with the Coast Guard’s Marine Transportation System Recovery Unit to coordinate the transit of vessels to test the effects on response operations.
Currently, there are 34 northbound vessels with 532 barges and 37 southbound vessels with 524 barges affected due to the river closure, according to Coast Guard data.
As gCaptain has reported, two tank barges loaded with crude oil and towed by the tug Nature’s Way Endeavor allided with the Vicksburg Railroad river bridge at about 1 a.m. Sunday. Both barges were damaged in the allision, and one reported a leak. The damaged barge contained approximately 80,000 gallons of light crude oil prior to the incident and the has been leaking ever since.
The unified command consists of representatives from the Coast Guard, state on-scene coordinators from Mississippi and Louisiana and the owner of the towing vessel, Nature’s Way Marine LLC. Personnel from Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River, Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Vicksburg and the Coast Guard’s National Strike Force are on scene as part of the unified command effort to oversee cleanup and salvage operations.