A Portion of the Mississippi River Closed Following Oil Spill

missippi-river-closings-oil-spillA crash between a barge and a towboat led to an oil spill that closed about 65 miles of the Mississippi River, according to the Coast Guard.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that the closure involved the Port of New Orleans as crews cleaned up oil that spilled after a barge ran into a towboat between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The AP reported that some 31,500 gallons of light crude oil spilled into the river following Saturday’s crash.

The spill took place over the weekend near Vacherie which is, by land, about 47 miles west of New Orleans, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough, wrote the AP. Colclough said that there were no injuries and all barges were secured.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation. What is known is that the vessel crash occurred in foggy conditions, according to NBC affiliate, WDSU.

Also closed were public drinking water intakes on the river in nearby St. Charles Parish, officials said. “The water supply in St. Charles Parish remains safe,” parish officials said in a news release Sunday afternoon, according to the AP.

The barge was one of two that were loaded with light crude, the AP wrote. The barge was being pushed by the 84.5-foot long Hannah C. Settoon and hit the 168-foot long Lindsay Ann Erickson, which was pushing grain barges, according to Colclough, the AP reported. Colclough said the remainder of the oil on the damaged barge was pumped into another barge by early yesterday.

The Hannah C. Settoon was pushing two barges that were carrying barrels of light crude oil, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough told NBC News.

An online Coast Guard database indicates that the Hannah C. Settoon, which is owned by Settoon Towing LLC of Pierre Part, Louisiana, was built in 2010. The Lindsay Ann Erickson was built in 1982 and is owned by Irving Texas-based General Electric Capital Corp.

There have been at least two other accidents involving Settoon Towing-owned towboats, the AP noted.

The Toxicology Department was monitoring the air for pollution issues, according to the Coast Guard. As of the most recent reports, no injuries were reported, the local water supply was deemed safe, and no reports of oiled wildlife were received, the Coast Guard also indicated. “Our highest priorities in this response are the safety of the public and responders, and protection of the environment,” Coast Guard Commander Rebecca Ore told NBC News.

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