Mississippi River Fully Reopens After Spill

Heartland Barge is located within 5 miles of the Mississippi River. We share the concerns of the local citizens, the maritime industry and all those who are affected by spills such as these. Here at Heartland we are taking the time to spread awareness and share information regarding these issues that affect the river.

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By Ashley Herriman 9/4/2015

A 17-mile stretch of the Mississippi River near Paducah, Ky., fully reopened on Sept. 8 as the Coast Guard continues to respond to an oil spill.

A pair of towboats collided at mile marker 937 on Wednesday evening, causing damage to a barge containing clarified slurry oil. According to a Coast Guard report released Friday, the barge discharged approximately 120,588 gals. of oil into the river.

As a result of the spill, the river was closed between mile markers 939 and 922 until Friday evening before being reopened with restrictions. Traffic restrictions were lifted on Tuesday.

Last week’s collision involved the 166’x45′ towboat P.B. Shah and the 136’x40′ towboat Dewey R. Ingram Barge Co., Nashville, Tenn., owns the 7,200-hp P.B. Shah and the 3,800-hp Dewey R is part of St. Louis-based Apex Towing’s fleet. The Coast Guard had no information about the size of the barges or its owners.

The Coast Guard is working with the barge owner and SWS Environmental Services, an oil spill response organization, on cleanup. In total, approximately 100 people had joined the response efforts as of 7 a.m. Saturday, including National Strike Force technical specialists and members of the NOAA scientific corps and Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health. On Saturday, eight boats were supporting the response, along with side-scan sonar, various sorbent boom, and a submerged oil recovery system. Water quality sampling and sediment quality sampling has been conducted and results are pending.

Slurry oil, a residual product from the refining process, tends to clump together and sink or become suspended in the water column when spilled, and there are unique challenges to cleaning up a river spill. On Tuesday, the Coast Guard said that lightering operations have been completed on the damaged Dewey R, and that it had been removed to a fleeting area for temporary repairs in order to prepare it for transit. Oil samples have been taken for testing and fingerprinting to assist in the development of recovery tactics, and a staging area has been established next to the Columbus boat ramp in Columbus, Ky.

The Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the collision.

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