The Coast Guard has extended the closure of the Mississippi River from mile marker 97, one mile north of the , , , to the , which expands an area of nearly 100 miles. Nearly 420,000 gallons of number 6 fuel oil spilled when an American Commercial Lines barge, which was being pushed by the tug boat Mel Oliver, and the chemical tank ship, Tintomara, collided at approximately 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.
More than 45,000 feet of containment boom has been deployed by contractors. Another 45,000 feet of boom is scheduled to be deployed Thursday in the affected areas. All water intake facilities at risk have been protected by boom. Marshlands and environmentally sensitive areas have not been affected, but containment boom is being deployed.
The Coast Guard launched an HH-65C helicopter crew from Air Station New Orleans, the Coast Guard Cutter Razorbill, a 41-foot boat and a 25-foot boat from Station New Orleans, a 41-foot boat from Staion Venice, and a 26-foot vessel from the Aids to Navigation Team in to respond to the spill.
Currently there are approximately 60 vessels waiting to transit throughout the river. The Coast Guard is working as quickly as possible to safely reopen the river to vessel traffic.
The investigation revealed the tug boat, Mel Oliver, reported there were no properly licensed individuals on the vessel during the time the incident occurred.
Rear Adm. Joel R. Whitehead, commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District, has launched a formal investigation into the incident.