The Coast Guard is assessing the environmental impact of roughly 300 gallons of crude oil it says spilled into the Mississippi River after more than a dozen barges briefly broke free near Alton, Ill.
The Coast Guard says a vessel hit an area where barges are docked on the river about 1 a.m. this morning, causing 14 to break away from their moorings. Those barges then hit another barge loading crude oil, which caused the spill of about seven barrels (300gallons) worth of oil.
Two freshman Congressmen from southern Illinois want the Army Corps of Engineers to start thinking of ways it can coordinate management of the Mississippi River to keep cargo traffic flowing during droughts or floods.
"The bill would have the Corps treat the entire drainage system as one entity," said Democrat Bill Enyart, a co-sponsor along with Republican Rodney Davis. "How do you balance someone getting to go boating against being able to get barges full of soybeans and corn out to feed the world? As it stands today, we can't balance those."
The U.S. Coast Guard has reported that 13 coal barges became dislodged from their tow vessel near Cape Girardeau on Sunday morning, three of which partially sank into the Mississippi. So, what happened?
Most of the 25 barges were soon accounted for after the vessel struck an object around 10:30 a.m. At this time, it is still not clear what that object was.
The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge at Cape Girardeau was closed for a little more than one hour as a precaution, but it was not struck.