Maritime Disaster, Maritime Law

Mississippi River Reopened For Towboat Traffic Following Barge Accident Oil Spill


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Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. is comprised of attorneys that are nationally-recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of lawyers has over a century of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients.

Our maritime attorneys have represented a wide range of victims who were involved in accidents on the high seas and open waters. Accidents involving both crewmembers and passengers aboard cruise ships, shipping barges and other vessels can prove disastrous, especially when the incident was the direct result of someone’s negligence.

As vessels continue to grow larger and more expansive, companies focus on monetary gains, instead of working harder to improve the safety features and protocols onboard these ships. A recent barge accident in the Mississippi River is a prime example of just how imminent the need to improve maritime safety truly is.

The barge, which had been transporting 80,000 gallons of oil, crashed into a railroad bridge in Vicksburg, Miss., around 1 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27, leading crude to spill into the Mississippi River. The accident also led a second barge to crash into the first. Both barges were being pushed by the tugboat Nature’s Way Endeavor.
The Mississippi River was initially closed for eight miles in each direction after Coast Guard authorities realized the first barge was leaking crude oil, but has now been reopened to north and southbound towboat traffic.

Coast Guard officials explain that crews were able to successfully remove the oil that had spilled into the waterway, after working more than a week on the cleanup project. The Captain of the Port announced that the safety zone was reduced to one mile centered on either side of the two barges with no passing or overtaking within the zone.

“The Coast Guard is no longer actively managing the flow of towboat traffic and we are minimizing the safety zone to a one-mile distance to ensure the safety of response crews still working on the MOC-12 barge,” said Capt. William Drelling, Federal On Scene Commander for the Vicksburg oil spill.

The barges remain at the scene of the maritime accident, but will be moved following the approval of a transit plan. The crude oil product in the barges was removed to assess the total damage to the vessels as well as to temporarily repair and prepare them for transit to a marine facility.

Crews from various organizations have helped with the oil spill cleanup, including Coast Guard representatives, the owner of the towing vessel, Nature’s Way Marine LLC, and several other Mississippi and Louisiana officials.

The Coast Guard has yet to reveal the cause of the barge crash, but assert that an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

There is no word yet regarding whether or not any charges will be filed or whether there was any sign of negligence or wrongdoing on the barge operator’s part. Several things could have gone wrong leading up to the accident, but if failure to abide by proper safety protocols onboard the vessels, speeding, distraction, or any other similar act of negligence was found to be the cause behind the incident, the barge operators or the towing company may be found liable for the incident and damages caused by the oil spill.

Photo Credits: Mississippi Barge Oil Spill

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