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Oil Spill Stalls Boat Traffic on Mississippi Near Hickman County

NOAA, via

The Mississippi River near Columbus, Ky. remains closed to traffic following a Wednesday night tow boat collision that dumped more than 120,000 gallons of waste oil into the waterway.

Assessment and clean-up is underway, but it’s a complicated process compared to cleaning up an oil spill in the ocean.

U.S. Coast Guard responders are on the Mississippi Friday assessing the spread of oil from a barge damaged in the accident.  They have also set up 17-mile safety zone around the accident site, closing the river to all non-response vehicle traffic.

As of Friday morning, more than 33 vessels were queued up above and below the zone awaiting transit. The safety zone runs between mile markers 922-939. The towboat collision occurred at mile marker 937.

Crews have deployed booms in the water to contain any leaking oil and are working on plans to best collect oil already in the water. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says any such process may be complicated by the Mississippi’s swift current or by oil sticking to sediment and sinking to the river bottom. River bank vegetation can also complicate clean-up efforts.

John Null is the host and creator of Left of the Dial. From 2013-2016, he also served as a reporter in the WKMS newsroom.
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