The United States Coast Guard reported yesterday that an oil spill that occurred over the weekend caused a 65-mile stretch of the Mississippi River to close. The oil spill forced the Port of New Orleans to close its operations while crews contained the spill.
On Saturday, a barge transporting light crude oil collided with a tugboat near Vacherie, LA, which is 47 miles west of New Orleans by land. The river closure caused 26 vessels to cease their operations on the river in order to avoid spreading oil and contaminating other vessels. Residual oil that wasn’t spilled into the river was pumped into another nearby barge.
Nearby parishes closed down public drinking water intakes that were in close proximity of the spill as a precaution. “The water supply in St. Charles Parish remains safe,” said St. Charles Parish officials.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough could not provide a clear estimate of when that portion of the river will reopen.
It is still unclear exactly how much oil was spilled into the river but officials and Coast Guard members did report a present oil sheen on the surface of the river. Officials are still determining the amount of oil spilled and the potential danger that the oil presence could pose to the waterway.
Throughout several news sources, there was no implication of a specific oil company that owned the barges or the oil being transported. No injuries were reported and officials are still investigating the cause of the collision.
“It’s a serious offense to, accidentally or intentionally, spill crude oil into water sources,” said Emmie Paulos, BP oil spill attorney with Levin, Papantonio P.A. “These investigations must be carefully conducted to properly identify which federal laws have been broken in order to properly charge the offending party.”