Barge Collision Causes Oil Spill, Shuts Down Mississippi River

Barge Collision Causes Oil Spill, Shuts Down Mississippi River

65-mile stretch of river closed to all traffic, traffic starts to back up
by John Pendleton  |   Monday, February 24, 2014
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Around 3:30 p.m. Saturday the U.S. Coast Guard station in New Orleans got a report from the National Response Center (NRC) that the motor vessel Lindsay Ann Erickson, a towing vessel, had collided with the E2MS 303, a Doublehull Transport Barge on the Mississippi River.

The E2MS 303 is a 297.5 foot oil barge, with a capacity of 29,200 bbls, owned by E Squared Marine Service, LLC, which is headquartered in Friendswood, Texas. It was one of two oil barges being pushed by the Hannah C. Settoon, a tugboat owned by Pierre Part-based Settoon Towing.

The Lindsay Ann Erickson, built in 1982, is owned by owned by General Electric Capital Corp. of Irving, Texas and was pushing grain barges.

The incident occurred near Vacherie, Louisiana, not far from mile marker 154.

No injuries were reported but the Coast Guard calculates that roughly 31,500 gallons of light crude oil was discharged. Environmental Safety & Health, an oil spill response organization, has crews in place and has positioned a strategically-deployed containment boom to protect the water intakes for three parishes in the affected area. As of today, there is no indication of any contamination of drinking water supplies. All impacted water intake facilities in the impacted zone have taken precautionary measures to prevent contamination.

Lightering operations to remove the remaining oil from the damaged barge finished early Sunday morning and the source of the spill was secured. The Captain of the Port of New Orleans has closed a sixty-five mile long stretch of the river from mile marker 90 to mile maker 155 to prevent possible contamination of passing vessels and to cut down on the amount of oil spreading further down the river.

By Sunday night there were 26 vessels halted on the river, sixteen of them waiting to go downriver and another ten waiting to go upriver. Those numbers are expected to increase as authorities involved in the cleanup and investigation continue to work on estimates of how much oil spilled and when the river would re-open. Despite the river closure both the Carnival Sunshine and the Norwegian Jewel cruise ships were allowed to depart the port Sunday to begin previously scheduled cruises.


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