Coast Guard Responds to Vessel Collision

Friday, April 25, 2003
Investigators from Coast Guard Marine Safety Office New Orleans are responding this morning to a vessel collision at about mile marker 144 of the Lower Mississippi River near Garyville, La. The collision, between Norwegian-flagged tanker Bow Lion and U.S.-flagged towboat Cooperative Spirit, occurred at about 12:30 a.m. and resulted in the release of the chemical Xylene into the water and a temporary closure of the waterway from mile marker 132-138; the river is now reopened to vessel traffic. The up-bound towboat, pushing 38 grain barges, suffered slight damage while the 549-foot down-bound tanker suffered a 75-foot gash along its starboard side. The gash, three feet above the waterline and one foot at the widest point, was enough to release an estimated 42,000 gallons of Xylene into the river. The spill was secured by the Bow Lion's crew by conducting internal transfers of the product which mitigated further discharge. The vessel owner, Ceres Hellenic Shipping Ent. Ltd., has personnel en route to conduct air monitoring tests. The Bow Lion is at anchorage at the LaPlace Anchorage in LaPlace, La. Xylene has been compared to paint thinner. Health hazards associated with the inhalation of Xylene include headaches, dizziness, nausea and drowsiness. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office New Orleans is investigating the cause of the casualty.

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