Barge tow allides with railroad bridge on the Mississippi River

The 90’×32′, 3,000-hp towboat Endeavor and the two barges it was pushing on Jan. 27 were involved in an allision with a railroad bridge in Vicksburg, Miss. One of the barges, MOC-12, ruptured and spilled light crude oil into the Mississippi River. The spill shut down river traffic for more than three days in both directions.

The Endeavor is owned by Theodore, Ala.-based Nature’s WayMarine and the two barges are owned by Third Coast Towing, Corpus Christi, Texas.

“Despite the response crew efforts to contain the seeping oil, an unspecified amount broke through the containment boom due to the difficulties of working on a dynamic and powerful river current,” Capt. William Drelling, Federal On Scene Commander for the Vicksburg oil spill, said while at the scene of the cleanup. Skimmers helped minimize the environmental threat of any additional potential releases.

The leaking tank barge contained approximately 80,000 gals. of light crude oil, but it’s still unclear how much product leaked into the river. In January, the Coast Guard said 7,000 bbls. were unaccounted for.

As of mid-February, the total amount of oil and oily water recovered was 9,953 gals. The Coast Guard categorizes inland oil spills over 10,000 gals. as major. However, the Coast Guard had not categorized the spill at presstime.

The light crude oil in the tank barges MOC-12 and MOC-15 was removed to complete damage assessments and temporary repairs before the barges were moved to a waiting marine facility. 

At its height, the accident forced more than 500 barges and over 30 towboats to wait to transit the river between mile markers 425 and 441 (16 river miles) in both directions, and 5,300′ of boom had been deployed.

The Unified Command consisted of representatives from the Coast Guard, the states of Mississippi and Louisiana and Nature’s Way Marine. Personnel from Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River, Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Vicksburg and the Coast Guard’s National Strike Force were also on scene as part of the effort to oversee cleanup and salvage operations.

The investigation into what caused the accident is ongoing, and Coast Guard personnel could not comment.         — K. Hocke 

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