Barge spill reported on the Lower Mississippi

At approximately 10 p.m. on June 10, the Coast Guard responded to the reported discharge of oil from a barge on the Lower Mississippi River near Natchez, Miss.

Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River received notification from Kirby Inland Marine reporting a discharge from one of its barges being transported by the towing vessel Leviticus at mile marker 339.

Pollution responders from Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Vicksburg and Sector Lower Mississippi River have been deployed to assess the situation on scene.

The crew of Leviticus secured the source of the discharge and estimated that approximately 3,402 gallons of product entered the water, and an additional 1,000 gallons were discharged, but contained to the deck of the barge.

Kirby Inland Marine worked with two oil spill removal organizations (OSROs) to clean up the discharged product. An estimated 1,000 feet of hard and sorbent boom were deployed to contain the product in the water. There were no reports of any impact on local marine or animal life. 

Commenting at the time of the incident, Capt. Ryan S. Rhodes, commander of the Sector Lower Mississippi River and federal on-scene coordinator, said, the Coast Guard “is working diligently with Kirby Inland Marine and the OSROs to ensure a timely and effective cleanup to mitigate any environmental impacts. Responders from each organization are working tirelessly to assess and remove the product from the shoreline and waterway.”

An investigation into the cause of the June 10 incident is ongoing. 

Four years earlier, on March 7, 2019, the Leviticus was pushing six barges downbound on the Lower Mississippi River when the lead barges of the tow contacted several barges moored at the Plaquemine Point Shipyard, breaking free a total of 11 barges. Ten of the 27 workers on board sustained minor injuries and were able to evacuate before the allision. 

All barges were later recovered, and no pollution was reported. Combined damage to the shipyard and the tow amounted to an estimated $539,500.  

The final NTSB report on that incident concluded that “the probable cause of the contact of the Leviticus tow with the Plaquemine Point Shipyard was the captain’s decision to continue the training of an apprentice mate/steersman while navigating a challenging river bend downbound and meeting upbound traffic in high-water conditions.”