Date: February 17, 2012
Contact: External Affairs Duty Public Affairs Specialist
Coast Guard responds to report of crude oil in Mississippi River
NEW ORLEANS — A unified command has been established in response to a report of crude oil in the lower Mississippi River, near mile marker 139, approximately 50 miles upriver of New Orleans, Friday.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received notification at 1:58 a.m., reporting that a construction barge, towed by the tug Alydar, and a tank barge, towed by the motor vessel Clarence W. Settoon, collided. The tank barge was loaded with Louisiana sweet crude oil and suffered a 10-foot by 5-foot gash above the waterline, resulting in a release of oil into the lower Mississippi River.
The impacted cargo tank reportedly was holding 3,535 barrels, or approximately 148,470 gallons, of crude oil. The actual amount of product released into the lower Mississippi River has not yet been determined, but is estimated to be substantially less than the total of the tank's contents.
Coast Guard Sector New Orleans dispatched a pollution investigation team to assess the size of the spill. The source has been secured and soundings will be conducted to determine the actual amount of product released during the incident.
The Coast Guard Captain of the Port New Orleans, Capt. Pete Gautier, has closed a section of the lower Mississippi River to all traffic from mile marker 135 to mile marker 140 near LaPlace.
The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund has been opened and ES&H has been contracted as the oil spill response organization.
"We are aggressively responding to this incident and have deployed pollution investigators from Sector New Orleans and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans to assess the situation," said Gautier. "We are working quickly and efficiently with our local and state partners to clean up product in the water and protect the maritime ecosystem and natural resources that are important to our national economy and essential to the livlihood and way of life for coastal communities."
No injuries were reported.
The unified command consists of representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator's Office and Settoon Towing.
The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the incident.