Drinking water intakes closed after oil spill shuts down 65 miles of Mississippi River

By Travis Gettys
Monday, February 24, 2014 10:34 EDT
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This file illustration photo shows oil, seen on the surface of water after a spill (AFP)
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An oil spill has shut down a 65-mile stretch of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Public drinking water intakes were shut down in St. Charles Parish as a precaution, officials said, and the Port of New Orleans was also closed.

Officials assured the public that drinking water “remains safe” in St. Charles Parish, and officials in St. James Parish said intake valves there were protected within hours of the incident.

The spill came from a barge carrying light crude that was struck Saturday afternoon by a tugboat near Vacherie, reported the Baton Rouge Advocate.

Coast Guard officials said they were unsure how much oil had spilled, but they stressed that only a sheen of oil had been reported on the river’s surface.

The Coast Guard is working with Louisiana’s Department of Environmental Quality and ES&H, an environmental cleanup company, to clean up the spill.

They were also deploying booms to prevent the oil from spreading and using planes and helicopters to see where the oil has gone, the newspaper reported.

All the oil on the damaged barge had been pumped onto another barge by early Sunday.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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