Update - Mississippi River Reopened After Oil Barge Collisiion

Update - Mississippi River Reopened After Oil Barge Collisiion

Closing the river costs U.S. economy $290 million plus per day
by John Pendleton  |   Tuesday, February 25, 2014
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Around 1:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon the Coast Guard reopened the Mississippi River "with restrictions" following the E2MS 303 incident near Vacherie, Louisiana. After a comprehensive assessment of the affected part of the river, it was determined the river was safe for transit with restrictions on vessels passing through. Traffic on the river was allowed to proceed, but only at the lowest speeds possible, while passing through the area.

The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH) is monitoring for air pollution threats. There are currently no exposure concerns that the public have been exposed to any contamination from the incident.

The 40 mile stretch upriver from New Orleans to Baton Rouge was reopened Monday morning and the 25 miles downriver from the incident was made available in the afternoon.

A sternwheeler river cruise ship with hundreds of passengers was halted during its trip from New Orleans to Vacherie early Sunday. It missed its stop at Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, but was allowed to continue upriver Sunday afternoon.

The collision that created the situation was reported about 3:30 p.m. Saturday and involved the motor vessel Lindsay Ann Erickson, a towing vessel and the E2MS 303, a Doublehull Transport Barge.

The E2MS 303 is a 297.5 foot oil barge and is owned by E Squared Marine Service. It was one of a pair of oil barges being pushed by the Hannah C. Settoon, a tugboat owned by Settoon Towing.

No injuries were reported but the Coast Guard said about 31,500 gallons of crude oil was discharged.

The incident was nowhere near as severe as an accident in 2008 in which a towboat owned by DRD Towing Company pushed a tanker barge of bunker fuel into the path of a tanker ship. The barge split in half and sank, releasing nearly 290,000 gallons of fuel. The situation forced the closure of about 100 miles of the Mississippi for six days.

A follow-up study determined that closing the river costs the national economy approximately $290 million per day, with higher per diem costs after the first few days.

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