Coast Guard: Rogue Barge Secured

Published: May. 20, 2011 at 6:28 PM CDT|Updated: May. 21, 2011 at 3:34 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La (AP/WAFB) - The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office is monitoring a semi-sunken barge floating loose in the Mississippi River.  The barge is one of three that sank Friday afternoon near the U.S. 190 bridge.

The U.S. Coast Guard reports they have the barge secured and will monitor it overnight.  First reports from EBRSO indicated the barge was heading south down the river toward the Hollywood Casino.

Friday afternoon, the Coast Guard closed the Mississippi River for five miles at Baton Rouge after four grain barges broke loose from a 20-barge tow, one hit a dock and three sank near the U.S. 190 bridge. The bridge was closed briefly for inspection.   

A Coast Guard official said at 5pm Friday the closed section of the river would remain closed "indefinitely".  He did not elaborate.

The owner of grain barges that sank says high water and rapid current forced a 20-barge tow out of its path down river so that barges hit the U.S. 190 bridge at Baton Rouge around 2pm Friday.

WAFB's Kiran Chawla was in the air, during a chopper trip over the river, when the accident unfolded.  She captured much of it on video.  (See the WAFB video player)

Senior Chief Michael O'Berry says the fourth barge was taking on water but was corralled at the bank.  He says the river was closed for the investigation. He did not know when it might reopen.

O'Berry says no injuries or pollution were reported after the barges broke loose from the 190-foot tug Crimson Jim, owned by American River Transportation Co, of St. Louis, Mo. The bridge reopened about 2:30 p.m.

Officials at the Rhodia plant say a towboat hit one of their barges at the plant that contained sulfuric acid. Rhodia officials say the barge with sulfuric acid was only dented and did not leak or release any product.