An ordinarily busy stretch of the Mississippi River is closed today due to a barge colliding with a railroad bridge. The barge was carrying 80,000 gallons of oil, which is now leaking into the river, creating an oily sheen of crude on the great waterway.
The impact happened Sunday and cleanup crews with booms are currently skimming the oily water attempting to clean up the spill. As of now, it is still unclear how much oil has leaked into the river. However, investigators have found that at least one of the barge’s eight tanks is leaking above the water line.
According to Coast guard Lt. Ryan Gomez, the incident has stalled at least 24 tugboats, barges and other vessels, as the river was closed to traffic for a 16-mile span north and south of Vicksburg, Mississippi. After a safety examination, railroad traffic has continued as normal on the bridge.
Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the collision. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Ryan Gomez said a tugboat was pushing two tank barges at the time of the incident and both barges were damaged. There is no sign that oil is leaking from the second barge.
Oil was reportedly seen three miles downriver from the collision; although crews have put down multiple booms in an effort to collect the flowing oil. Meanwhile, other crews are in the process of removing the remaining oil that’s still on the barge and transporting it to a different vessel.
Third Coast Towing, LLC owns the barges and both were being towed by the tugboat Nature’s Way Endeavor.