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Crews Working to Contain Oil in Miss. River

By Daniel Cherry | Published 28 Jan 2013 08:17pm | comments
Crews are still working to clean up an oil spill on the Mississippi River near Vicksburg after a barge carrying 80 thousand gallons of crude oil slammed into a bridge early Sunday morning. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, officials say oil is still leaking, but crews have the area contained.
 
Cleanup crews worked through the night with booms, skimming oil off the surface of the Mississippi River. At the latest update, Coast Guard spokesman Jonathan Lally says they've captured more than 11 hundred gallons of oily water so far. Officials are still assessing the situation, and Lally says it's unclear how long the cleanup will take.
 
"How long that may take, it varies. What is currently in place is setting a salvage and recovery plan. Once that is set in place we'll have a better estimated time of the recovery process as well as when the river will be open to traffic", says Lally.
 
The barge struck the old Highway 80 bridge in Vicksburg early Sunday morning. The area where the barge struck there is a massive bend, tremendous currents, and immediately following, there's the bridge. That's why experts say it's one of the most dangerous spots in the whole Mississippi River. Herman Smith is the Superintendent of the Vicksburg Bridge Commission. He says with conditions like this, one slip is all it takes.
 
Smith says,  "A towboat pilot really has to be on his toes when they come through bridges straight out of a bend like that. And 99.9% of them make it, and just sometimes the current catches some of them off guard."
 
Smith also says the bridge suffered no major damage. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard has shut down about 16 miles of the river during cleanup. Wayne Mansfield is Executive Director of the Warren County Port Commission. If cleanup only takes a couple days, he thinks the impact will be minimal on businesses in the port.
 
"If this drags on through Thursday or Friday it could begin to have some kind of negative impact on them. We have a number of barges up at our port at the county owned facility that we're unloading right now so we have plenty of work to keep us busy through the next few days", says Mansfield.
 
Officials have yet to determine how much oil spilled into the river. As of yesterday, crews had the area contained with booms to keep oil from escaping downstream.

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