The Corps of Engineers is continuing to break up the ice jam at Emsworth Lock and Dam on the Ohio River near Pittsburgh so salvage crews can remove barges that broke away last weekend.

The Coast Guard warned mariners to beware of heavy ice coming downstream from that operation, in addition to the ice flows already packing the Ohio and the Allegheny River.

Ice and high water caused the 27-barge breakaway at the Jack’s Run fleeting area at mile marker 4 on the Ohio near Pittsburgh, while another 34 barges were carried away from a fleeting area at mile marker 94 near Moundsville, W. Va.

The Coast Guard says all but two of the wayward barges are now accounted for, and the missing pair may be sunk upstream from Emsworth. The Corps continues side scan sonar surveys in the river channel, looking for possible obstructions.

Until the all-clear comes two safety zones remain in effect with full waterway closures, 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 urged the public and commercial river operators to “ensure barges and vessels are strongly secured due to heavy ice flow on the Ohio and Allegheny River.”


Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.