1997 - Barge

Year 1997
Vessel Barge
Location Mississipi River, USA
Cargo type Bulk
Chemicals BENZENE, GASOLINE

Summary

On March 17, 1997 a tug boat pushing a string of 25 barges on the swollen Mississippi River, U.S.A. collided with a bridge. Four barges sank and one overturned. The overturned barge released pyrolysis gasoline below the water line from 3 spill valves and the vapour header. The substance contained 41.0% benzene.

Narrative

On March 17, 1997 a tug boat pushing a string of 25 barges on the swollen Mississippi River, U.S.A. collided with a bridge. Four barges sank and one overturned. The overturned barge released pyrolysis gasoline below the water line from 3 spill valves and the vapour header. The substance contained 41.0% benzene.

Resume

A number of authorities were involved in the response: United States Coast Guard, State Police, the barge company, an oil spill contractor and local fire and chemical response teams.

The pilot of the barge notified the coast guard of the incident via radio. The oil spill notification system was utilized.

There were over 20 small boats that placed staging personnel at the spill site. Three salvage cranes were procured to upright the barge. Other response equipment included a lightering barge, a fire boat, a helicopter, shoreline surveying equipment and equipment from the local fire departments. Internal response communication was accomplished by face-to-face meetings, hand-held radios and cellular phones. To implement the response, a unified command structure (ICS) was set (see Figure 1 for the functional areas of ICS).

The public was informed of response efforts through daily briefings from the unified command. As a precaution, a nearby university and 75 inmates from a work release centre were evacuated. Some of the successes of the response was that there was no confirmed exposure to benzene nor any injuries sustained from the incident or the response. Over 80% of the cargo was recovered. The response effort encountered certain difficulties, namely the waters of the river which were extraordinarily high at the time, whilst it took six hours for representatives of the barge company to arrive at the scene.

last modified 2020-12-09T12:11:56+00:00