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Indiana Barge Hits Tanker, Shuts Down Mississippi River In New Orleans

Last updated on Thursday, July 24, 2008

(JEFFERSONVILLE) - A Southern Indiana company may be at least partially responsible for a river accident that has Mississippi River traffic shut down near New Orleans.

Network Indiana says Jeffersonville-based American Commercial Lines is reporting that one of its liquid barges was involved in a collision on the Mississippi River near New Orleans. The company says the barge was not responsible for the accident and the company is assisting with environmental assessments, containment and clean-up.

However, the New Orleans Times-Picayune says the operator of the tugboat pushing the barge, the 56-foot Mel Oliver, was piloted by a person with only an apprentice mate's license, when, according to the paper, he should have had a master's license at least.

The Indiana-owned barge was carrying more than 400,000 gallons of tar-like #6 fuel oil, which has created a slick stretching from New Orleans to the delta 100 miles to the south.

Coast Guard officials told the Times-Picayune the oil is so heavy it won't evaporate, and they hope to clean it up before it sinks to the bottom of the river.

Currently more than 80 barges are backed up at points from the tug's collision with the Liberian tanker Tintomara.

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