Crews complete lightering of damaged oil barge near Natchez

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The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(NATCHEZ, Miss.) — The barge MM-46 response unified command continues its response efforts in the vicinity of the incident near Natchez, Miss., on Monday.

Response crews are scheduled to remove the damaged barge from the incident site Monday morning. Crews are taking the barge to Vicksburg for damage assessment and repairs.

Crews completed lightering operations removing the remaining clarified oil from the damaged barge at 7:20 p.m. Saturday. Crews removed a total of more than 700,000 gallons of clarified oil from the damaged barge to two Magnolia Marine Transport barges. They estimate that more than 24,600 gallons of oil is still unaccounted for.

Response crews will continue to monitor the area around the incident site for any pollution from the damaged barge and will cleanup the oil as the river levels drop.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were unable to locate the missing clarified oil using side-scanning sonar on Saturday.

Capt. Timothy Wendt, commander, Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River and captain of the port, has reopened the river near the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge to all vessel traffic.

If the public suspects they see pollution they are encouraged to call the National Response Center at (800) 424-8802.


(NEW ORLEANS) (Jan. 22) — 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.

By Professional Mariner Staff