Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ship-Barge Crash Closes Mississippi At New Orleans

No one was properly licensed to pilot the tugboat pushing an oil barge that spilled 400,000 gallons of heavy oil after it was split in two by tanker early today in New Orleans, the U.S. Coast Guard says. Reserve drinking-water supplies may run out later today in several communities after intakes were closed to prevent contamination. A 58-mile stretch of the Mississippi River could remain closed for days as clean-up efforts continue. Crews are trying to keep the oil from drifting farther south, where levee breaks would allow it to seep into wetlands.
Tugs hold the two pieces of an oil barge involved in a collision in the Mississippi River
The Coast Guard has determined that no one aboard the tugboat had the required master's pilot license. One crewman had an apprentice mate's license, but no one else was licensed. The Coast Guard has not released results of drug and alcohol tests on the Captains of the tugboat and the tanker. About 1:30 a.m. CT the 600-foot tanker Tintomara rammed into the 61-foot barge carrying 9,983 barrels of #6 fuel oil, more than 400,000 gallons, and Coast Guard Capt. Lincoln Stroh. The river was closed two hours later.

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