The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
(NEW ORLEANS) — A unified command has been established in response to a report of crude oil in the lower Mississippi River near mile marker 434 in Vicksburg, Miss., Sunday.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River received notification at 1:30 a.m., reporting that two tank barges, towed by the tug Nature's Way Endeavor, allided with the Vicksburg Railroad river bridge. Both of the tank barges were loaded with crude oil; both of the barges were damaged, and one has released oil into lower Mississippi River.
The actual amount of product released into the lower Mississippi River has not yet been determined.
Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Vicksburg has dispatched a pollution response team to assess the size of the spill and oversee cleanup operations. The source has been contained and tank levels are being monitored for further leakage. The actual amount of the spill has not yet been determined, but the leaking tank contained approximately 80,000 gallons of light crude oil.
The Coast Guard Captain of the Port, Capt. William Drelling, commander of Sector Lower Mississippi River, has closed a section of the lower Mississippi River to all traffic from mile marker 425 to mile marker 441 near Vicksburg.
The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund has been opened.
No injuries were reported.
The unified command consists of representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, local authorities and law enforcement and the owner of the towing vessel, Nature’s Way Marine LLC.
The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the incident.