The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:
(NEW ORLEANS) — The Coast Guard continues its response to a towboat allision with the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge on the Mississippi River resulting in a barge sinking with slurry oil on board, near Natchez, Miss., on Thursday.
Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River watch standers received a call at 1:02 p.m. reporting an allision involving the towing vessel Amy Francis and the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge at mile marker 363 on the Mississippi River. Amy Francis was transporting six barges, four reportedly loaded with slurry oil and two reported to be empty at the time of the incident.
The allision caused damage to at least one barge containing slurry oil, discharging an unknown amount into the Mississippi River. An oily sheen was reportedly observed in the vicinity of the allision. The Coast Guard is working with state and local agencies and the barge owner to determine the amount of slurry oil that has been discharged.
The barge reportedly has a maximum potential of more than 1 million gallons of slurry oil on board.
The captain of the port has issued a waterway restriction from mile marker 363 near Natchez north to mile marker 438 near Vicksburg, Miss. The restriction is for towboats pushing barges to not transit under the bridges.
The cause of incident is under investigation.