Tugboat collision leads to barge spilling caustic soda in Mississippi River

San Francisco: A barge overturned and spilled a quantity of caustic soda into the Mississippi River on Friday following a ship collision that dislodged five barges. It all happened in waters near Vacherie, Louisiana.

The sequence began in early afternoon when a collision between two towing vessels, American Heritage (built 1976) and David G. Schert, caused the barges to break loose of their moorings. The one that overturned is out of the navigable waterway on the right descending bank.

Although the maximum possible spillage in this incident would be 23,672 gallons, even that worst-case scenario would not be too drastic a problem because caustic soda is not dangerous to the environment and it became neutralized soon after entering the water.

The other four barges were towed to safe positions and the waterway was completely open to traffic after just an hour.

The US Coast Guard is looking into the cause of the original collision and the subsequent running of the barges.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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