Mississippi River Reopens Following Oil Spill; Officials Say Area Safe

Image: Mississippi River Reopens Following Oil Spill; Officials Say Area Safe

Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014 09:39 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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The U.S. Coast Guard announced Monday that the Mississippi River in Louisiana has reopened as crews continued to clean up 31,500 gallons of light crude oil that spilled into the river after a collision on Saturday.

The spill occurred between Baton Rouge and the Port of New Orleans when a tanker barge collided with a towing vessel, shutting down a 65-mile stretch of the river, according to United Press International. 

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The Coast Guard said in a statement that officials reopened the river about 1:30 p.m. after a cleanup assessment was made by local, state and federal officials. There are some restrictions on the river, as the situation continues to be monitored. 

"Response crews with Environmental Safety & Health, an oil spill removal organization, has strategically deployed containment boom to protect the water intakes for three parishes in the affected area," the Coast Guard said Monday.

"All impacted water intake facilities in the affected area are taking precautionary measures to prevent contamination. The unified command has confirmed with local officials that there are no impacts to drinking water," the statement continued.

Officials from the Port of New Orleans told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the Coast Guard is requiring vessels to move at a "slow bell," or slow speed, between Miles 150 and 155. The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health has been monitoring air quality in the area. 

The agencies have given no reports of contaminated air or drinking water.

"Our highest priorities in this response are the safety of the public and responders, and protection of the environment," Coast Guard Cmdr. Rebecca Ore said in a statement.

The collision between the barge and tow ship remained under investigation Tuesday.

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