Unified Command Responding to Breakaway Barges on Ohio River

Breakaway barges stack up against the Emsworth Lock and Dam near Pittsburgh on Saturday, January 13, 2018. Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

A unified command consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard, United States Army Corps of Engineers and industry partners was continuing Monday to response to barge breakaways on the Ohio River near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Moundsville, West Virginia over the weekend. 

Approximately 38 of the reported 45 breakaway barges from fleeting areas at mile maker 94 on the Ohio River near Moundsville have been recovered and secured.

25 of the 27 breakaway barges from Jack’s Run Fleeting area at mile marker 4 on the Ohio River near Pittsburgh have been accounted for, and five of the barges were reported to have gone over Emsworth Lock & Dam. At one point on Saturday, up to 15 barges became lodged against Emsworth Lock & Dam near Pittsburgh. 

The Coast Guard said the barges broke away due to ice and high water.

There are no reports of significant damage to Emsworth Lock & Dam and no environmental concerns from pollution.

Two safety zones, full waterway closures, have been established from mile marker 93 to mile marker 110 and mile marker 2 to mile marker 20 on the Ohio River due to risk of channel obstructions.

“The Coast Guard is working in tandem with our federal and industry stakeholders to account for all barges involved in both incidents and to facilitate the reopening of the waterways and the resumption of commerce,” said Cmdr. Leon McClain, Jr., the captain of the port of Pittsburgh.