September 28, 2009 / 8:07 PM / 10 years ago

Mississippi River traffic blocked by grounded ship

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A tanker carrying crude oil ran aground and is blocking vessel traffic near the mouth of the Mississippi River, the most important U.S. commercial waterway, the Coast Guard said on Monday.

No leak has been detected from the ship, the Singapore-flagged Eagle Tucson, which is owned by UK-based AET Inc.

The vessel ran aground at 2:45 a.m. CDT (0745 GMT) on Monday with 602,000 gallons of crude oil, according to a Coast Guard statement.

At least eight large vessels are being held up due to the incident, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said. No information was available on what cargoes those vessels held.

Four tug boats are on the scene, with another two en route, to help to refloat the Eagle Tucson, and a lightering vessel arrived to transfer its cargo if necessary.

The grounding of the Eagle Tucson, an upriver-bound, 107,000-tonne deadweight, double-hull oil carrier, occurred at mile marker 3 on the Lower Mississippi, near Pilottown, Louisiana, and around 85 miles downriver from New Orleans.

Oil refiners in the Gulf Coast region should not have to make any cuts in production because of the incident, said a source at a major U.S. refiner. The channel may be cleared to outbound traffic later Monday, the source said.

“Deep-draft vessels are currently unable to transit through the area,” the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard said it was not immediately clear how long it would take to clear the Eagle Tucson. Small vessels were still able to transit in the area, which serves as a key U.S. shipping corridor, the spokeswoman said.

Reporting by Joshua Schneyer. Additional reporting by Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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