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More Mishaps on the Mississippi

Mississippi
file photo

By MarEx 2016-03-04 17:28:10

The Mississippi River is reopened near Granite City, Illinois, after the latest in a series of incidents on the waterway this year.

Clean-up operations at Lock and Dam 27 were completed on Friday after the towing vessel, Gregory David, sustained a ruptured fuel tank while transiting the lock on Thursday. 

About 1,800 gallons of fuel had spilled into the main chamber of the lock , the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The fuel is believed to have been contained within the lock and not released into the river.

Lock 27 is one of the busiest locks on the U.S. inland waterways system and is just upriver from St. Louis, a key port for loading grain barges bound for export terminals along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

A queue of delayed vessels had grown to 10 southbound barge tows and nine northbound tows since the closure on Thursday, said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokeswoman Amanda Cruse.

The backlog was beginning to pass on Friday afternoon, initially via the lock's auxiliary chamber. The lock's main chamber, where the accident occurred, was not damaged and will reopen later on Friday, she said.

The incident follows a spate of accidents earlier in the year. In January, the MM-46 barge allided with the Natchez-Vidalia U.S. 84 Bridge, on the Mississippi River, near Natchez. The towing vessel Amy Francis was transporting six barges, four reportedly loaded with slurry oil, when the allision occurred. An unknown amount of slurry oil was spilt into the Mississippi River.

Earlier in January, the river was closed near New Orleans for several hours after seven barges broke free from the ATB Lucia after it struck a fleeting area. About 20 gallons of petroleum product was reportedly discharged into the river in the incident.

Three other barge incidents also occurred in January. The towboat Robert D. Byrd allided with the Vicksburg Bridge on the Mississippi, closing the river less than a day after it reopened after the AEP River Operations towboat Ron W. Callegan and her tow of several dozen barges also struck the Vicksburg railroad bridge. Nine barges containing coal broke away; four sank.

Prior to that, the SCF Liquids towboat Cynthia G. Esper and her tow of chemical barges allided with the Highway 49 bridge over the Mississippi in Helena, Arkansas. Four barges broke away in the Helena incident. Some two million gallons of denatured ethanol was successfully removed from the barges, but about 300,000 gallons leaked into the water.