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Barge collision spills oil into the Mississippi

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Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012 11:42 am | Updated: 10:26 pm, Mon Dec 3, 2012.

(CNN) — A barge collision near New Orleans spilled oil into the Mississippi River Friday, prompting authorities to close a five-mile stretch of the waterway.

The St. Charles Parish Department of Waterworks shut down both of its water intakes located in New Sarpy and Luling due to the spill but said the incident did not pose a public threat.

No one has been reported injured. Officials have not yet said how much oil was spilled. Response agencies were on the scene.

A tanker barge towed by a motorized vessel, Settoon, ran into a construction barge towed by the tugboat Alydar just before 2 a.m. Friday near Reserve in St. John Parish, west of New Orleans.

U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Suzanne Kerver said the tanker barge suffered a 10 feet by 5 feet gash above the water line, allowing crude oil to spill out of the 214,000-gallon tank.

The leak has since been contained, said Lt. Paul Rhynard, also of the Coast Guard.

"We haven't verified how much was actually in there or what leaked," he said. "We respond to these things like it is a million gallons."

Oil Mop, a contracted cleanup company, was on the scene and has deployed 100 feet of boom, Kerver said.

An investigation is under way and a team was taking images from the air to assess the gravity of the situation.

— CNN's Melanie Whitley, Aaron Cooper and Rick Martin contributed to this report.


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