Washington, D.C. – The American Waterways Operators (AWO), which represents the tug, towboat and barge industry, announced today that the industry is establishing new and additional voluntary precautions to ensure safe transit on the inland waterways during the unprecedented flooding.
After consulting with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers through the River Industry Executive Task Force (RIETF), the barge industry suggested additional safety enhancements and agreed to heightened safety practices. These measures include using assist tugs to navigate through especially challenging areas, reducing the number of barges in each tow to no more than 20, following newly-designated channels in certain areas of the Mississippi River, and working with local officials to keep towboats and barges away from vulnerable levees. Additionally, at certain times, tows are navigating single file through certain channels in the river.
“The unprecedented Mississippi River flooding has prompted a heightened sense of responsibility among towing companies and vessel operators to take extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of vessel crews, the public, the environment, and property,” said AWO President and CEO Thomas Allegretti. “AWO members will continue to operate under these enhanced practices for as long as river conditions require this additional safety margin.”