BY KATIE VALENTINE ON FEBRUARY 24, 2014 AT 9:10 AM
The spill occurred on Saturday when a barge carrying oil crashed into a tugboat between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Authorities closed the stretch of river on Sunday and still can’t say exactly how much oil was spilled, though a light sheen of oil is being reported. No injuries were reported from the crash.
In St. Charles Parish, public drinking water intakes along the Mississippi were closed as a precaution, but a news release Sunday assured the public that the water supply “remains safe” in the parish. As of Sunday night, the closure was stalling 16 vessels waiting to go downriver and 10 waiting to go upriver.
This isn’t the first time the Mississippi River has experienced an oil spill due to a barge crash. Last year, a barge carrying 80,000 gallons of oil crashed into a rail bridge, spilling oil and causing a sheen as far as three miles from the crash site. That spill closed the Mississippi River for eight miles in each direction. In February 2012, an oil barge crashed into a construction bridge, spilling less than 10,000 gallons of oil into the river. In 2008, according to the AP, a major spill occurred on the Mississippi, when a barge broke in half after a collision and spilled 283,000 gallons of oil into the river, closing it for six days.
In this aerial photo, river traffic is halted along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Vacherie, La., due to a barge leaking oil in St. James Parish, La., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014.
The Coast Guard reopened the stretch of river affected by the spill on Monday, and officials said about 31,500 gallons of light crude oil spilled into the river. The Coast Guard also said that as of now, there have been no reports of wildlife affected by the spill. This post has been changed to reflect new information on the size of the spill.
CREDIT: AP PHOTO/GERALD HERBERT
Special thanks to Richard Charter