Oil spill closes 65-mile stretch of lower Mississippi River

Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:54pm EST

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Feb 23 (Reuters) - A 65-mile (105-km) stretch of the lower Mississippi River, including the Port of New Orleans, remained closed on Sunday night while crews cleaned up oil that spilled when a barge was hit by another vessel, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The collision happened on Saturday afternoon near Vacherie, Louisiana, about 52 miles (84 km) west of New Orleans, according to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough.

The Lindsay Ann Erickson, which was pushing grain barges, collided with a barge carrying barrels of light crude oil pushed by the Hannah C. Settoon, which caused oil to go into the river, according to Colclough.

No injuries were reported, and the source of the oil has been secured, the Coast Guard said.

Oil spill response vessels and recovery equipment have been deployed in the river, the Coast Guard said.

Authorities decided to close the river early Saturday evening to avoid possible contamination of passing vessels and to reduce the amount of oil spreading further down the river, according to the Coast Guard.

The clean-up is expected to continue on Monday, Colclough said.

Settoon Towing, based in Pierre Part, Louisiana, was the source of the oil, according to Colclough. A representative for the company was not immediately available for comment on Sunday. (Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Eric Walsh)

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