A lightering and salvage plan has been approved and multiple response crews have been dispatched to begin removing oil from the damaged barge.
Response crews have deployed 2,800-feet of boom to contain the source of the oil leak. Skimming vessels have recovered approximately 2,300 gallons of oil-water mixture since the incident occurred. The tank levels are being continually monitored. The leaking tank contained approximately 80,000 gallons of light crude oil. An estimated 7,000 gallons of oil is unaccounted for with an unknown quantity potentially contained in the void spaces of the damaged barge.
The Mississippi River remains closed to all traffic for a 16-mile distance between mile marker 425 and mile marker 441 near Vicksburg. Currently there are 21 northbound and 34 southbound vessels affected due to the river closure.
Mississippi River vessel traffic queue management is ongoing. Vessels will be allowed to transit the area as soon as it is environmentally and operationally safe to do so.
U.S. Coast Guard Update:
The Mississippi River is still a mess today after a weekend barge accident closed a portion of the river to all waterway traffic.
The accident happened early Sunday when a tug pushing two tank barges hit a railroad bridge, causing one of the barges to rupture.
That barge was carrying 80,000 gallons of light crude oil. Coast Guard officials don't know how much spilled has been collected. Crews have been working around the clock skimming the oily water.
As of this afternoon, 16 miles of the river is still shut down, with almost 47 vessels backed up, waiting for it to reopen.
COAST GUARD UPDATE: The Coast Guard says the barge that hit the railroad bridge in Vicksburg was carrying 80,000 gallons of light crude oil, but officials say they don't know how much has spilled into the river.
The river has been closed for eight miles in each direction, halting vessel traffic in the area.
The Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Vicksburg has dispatched a pollution response team to assess the size of the spill and oversee the cleanup operations.
The source has been contained and tank levels in the barge are being monitored for further leakage.
No injuries have been reported. The Coast Guard is currently investigation the cause of the incident.
A unified command has been established in the area, consisting of representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, local authorities and law enforcement and the owner of the towing vessel, Nature's Way Marine LLC.
VICKSBURG, MS -- The Coast Guard says two oil barges were heavily damaged when they hit the railroad bridge over the Mississippi River at Vicksburg.
Petty Officer Carlos Vega says federal, state and local authorities are heading there to assess damage after the hit Sunday.
Vega says he does not know how much oil the barges are carrying or whether they are leaking. He says the industry's Oil Spill Response Organization, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and state and local authorities are on the way.
Coast Guard officials say the Coast Guard received a call about the hit at 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning that two tank barges, towed by Nature's Way Endeavor, hit the Vicksburg Railroad river bridge. Both barges -- loaded with crude oil -- are damaged and one is spilling oil into the river. The Coast Guard says the bridge has been inspected and is safe for trains.
The bridge is less than 400 feet upriver from the Interstate 20 bridge over the Mississippi River.