- Less than 10,000 gallons of crude oil have spilled, officials say
- Two barges collided on the Mississippi River early Friday
- No one was injured
A barge collision near New Orleans spilled oil into the Mississippi River on 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 because of the spill, but said the incident did not pose a public threat.
The area had been reopened, with some restrictions, by Friday afternoon as investigators continued to assess the damage, officials said.
No injuries have been reported, and preliminary estimates put the spill at less than 10,000 gallons of crude oil. Response agencies have remained on the scene.
The spill was started after 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.
Oil Mop, a contracted cleanup company, was on the scene and has deployed 100 feet of boom, Kerver said.
"One of our priorities is to facilitate the safe continuation of commercial traffic," said Coast Guard Capt. Pete Gautier. "Safety is paramount, and the unified command is working to minimize the impact this spill has on people, the environment and commerce."