Ohio River reopened after barge breakaway, allision

Racine Lock and Dam on the Ohio River near Huntington, W. Va., was reopened Friday after a three-barge breakaway Thursday morning forced the temporary closure of the waterway.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley received a report that the uninspected towing vessel Austin C. Settoon, pushing three barges loaded with approximately 3,780,000 gals. of natural gas condensate, allided with the lock wall at approximately 5:30 a.m. Thursday. The barges subsequently broke away, with one contained in the lock and the other two getting pinned up against the dam along with the towboat.

The 91’6″x34’x10′ Austin C. Settoon is owned by Settoon Towing Company, Pierre Part, La. Settoon Towing has joined the Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a unified command to respond to the incident.

On Friday morning, Amherst Madison‘s 80’5″x30’x9’5″ towing vessel, Capt. Ed Harris, removed the barge from the locking channel and took it to a nearby fleeting area, the Coast Guard said. The waterway was reopened with the remaining two barges still pinned against gates seven and eight of the dam, and the Austin C. Settoon pinned against gates six and seven.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman told the West Virginia Meigs Independent Press, which carried photos of the incident, that officials were waiting for water levels to go down before attempting to move the stuck vessels.

On Saturday, the Austin C. Settoon was dewatered after being recovered and transferred from Racine Locks to Amherst Madison’s West Virginia facility by the motor vessel Alabama. The two stuck barges followed on Sunday, and were initially moved to the auxiliary lock chamber for a survey prior to being towed by the Alabama to Amherst Madison.

There were no reports of injuries or pollution. The Coast Guard is investigating.

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Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is WorkBoat's online editor.

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