GRAMERCY, LA (WAFB) - Several barges broke loose on the Mississippi River after a collision between two ships near Vacherie Thursday afternoon.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported that two towing vessels, American Heritage and David G. Schert, caused the barges to break loose as a result of their collision. One of the barges, loaded with caustic soda, was overturned, but is out of the waterway on the right bank. The other barges, two that were said to have sunk, have been safely recovered.
An unknown amount of caustic soda solution was released from the overturned barge into the waterway. Worst case amount is 23,672 gallons. The Coast Guard said that the solution "will dissipate and neutralize soon after entering the water, posing risk in the immediate vicinity of the barge." Drinking water officials and surrounding parishes were notified.
The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the incident and is keeping an eye on the situation along with local authorities.
According to St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel said tugboats were immediately deployed to get control of the barges.
Louisiana State Police closed the Veterans Bridge in Gramercy for a short time, but have now reopened the bridge.
The Mississippi River is open to all traffic.