Oil spill has no impact on water supply

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 26, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE – A weekend oil spill in St. James Parish temporarily closed a 65-mile stretch of the Mississippi River, including the Port of New Orleans.

The spill occurred near mile marker 154 on the lower Mississippi River near Vacherie. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans watchstanders received a collision and spill report from the National Response Center at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22. The spill was the result of a collision between an E2MS 303 tank barge and the motor vessel Lindsay Ann Erickson, a towing vessel.

It is estimated that approximately 31,500 gallons of light crude oil were released into the river from the collision. The cause of the incident is still under investigation.

Response crews with Environmental Safety and Health deployed containment boom to protect the local drinking water supplies of Jefferson, St. Charles, St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes.

Unified command spokesperson Jaclyn Young, a petty officer in the Coast Guard, confirmed with local officials that there were no immediate impacts to drinking water supplies.

St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel said he was “very grateful and appreciative residents were protected” because of swift responses from unified command.

Roussel said water samples will continue to be taken more frequently than normal until the risk of any threat to drinking water supplies has been completely eliminated.

“We don’t rest just yet,” Roussel said.

The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health has conducted air monitoring for air pollution threats. No exposure concerns to the public have been detected through this monitoring. Additionally, there have been no reports of oiled wildlife.

“Our highest priorities in this response are the safety of the public and responders, and protection of the environment,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Rebecca Ore, E2MS 303 Incident Commander.

Other unified command working on matters related to the spill consists of the Coast Guard, Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office, Environmental Safety and Health, Forefront Emergency Management, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, St. James Parish and St. John the Baptist Parish.