Barge Spills Liquid Asphalt

Monday, November 28, 2005
A barge carrying about 1 million gallons of liquid asphalt ran aground early this morning on the James River near the end of Willis Road in southern Chesterfield County, according to a report in the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Authorities said the barge was being pushed up river by a tugboat. It ran aground between 4 and 4:30 a.m. One of eight tanks holding about 120,000 gallons of heated asphalt ruptured, spilling the material into the river, said Henrico County fire Lt. Gary Hutchison.

U.S. Coast Guard officials estimated that 8,400 gallons of asphalt leaked from the barge.

Firefighters and hazardous materials crews from Chesterfield and Henrico counties, as well as a private cleanup contractor, were working to contain the spill with booming material.

The boom, a floating material wrapped in a plastic, extends about a foot below the water line.

The asphalt, which is heated to 270 degrees Fahrenheit during transport, was to be unloaded at a company near Richmond's Deep Water Terminal.

Officials with the state Department of Environmental Quality today said they had not seen any injured or dead wildlife or other environmental problems near the spill site.

The 250-foot barge Piney Point is owned Vane Line Bunkering of Baltimore, Md. The tugboat pushing it is operated by Dann Marine Towing of Chesapeake City, Md.

Authorities haven't yet determined what caused the accident. The U.S. Coast Guard is leading the investigation.

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