Update: 420 gallons of oil discharged into Mississippi River near Convent

Published 9:03 am Tuesday, April 7, 2015

CONVENT — Approximately 420 gallons of oil discharged into the Mississippi River Monday following a multi-ship collision near Convent.

St. John the Baptist Parish officials said Tuesday morning they are monitoring water intakes in the river until the full impact of the discharge is determined.

All intakes are being monitored.

Mitch Smith, director of operations for the Port of South Louisiana, said as of Tuesday morning the Mississippi River was open to traffic one way, and that designation was being controlled by the U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Center in New Orleans.

“We have vessels on the river that we access and notify,” Smith said. “We were the first to respond. We notified the Coast Guard. We assist and assess in vessel traffic.”

The Coast Guard first received report at approximately 4 p.m. Monday that the motor vessel Privocean, a 751-foot bulk carrier, broke free from its mooring and drifted down river, colliding with the 98-foot towing vessel Texas, which was moored at the time.

Crew members from the Texas were taken to the hospital for medical evaluation, but no injuries were reported.

The Privocean continued to drift and collided with the motor vessel Bravo, an 816-foot tank ship, which was off loading crude oil. The Bravo was able to complete emergency shutdown procedures before breaking free of its moorings and connection points, causing an oil spill.

The Privocean was able to get under way and anchor at mile marker 162. The Bravo is half a mile down the river from its original position and is anchored with a two-tug escort. All vessels are being actively monitored by U.S. Coast Guard response teams.

The Texas is stable and not taking on water or discharging any oil, officials said.

The Bravo has a three-tug escort, the vessel is stable but taking on water in the ballast tanks.

The Bravo’s propeller is fouled with a mooring line, but remains stable at anchor with tug escorts.

The facility arms, the source of the discharge, were secured, and a containment boom was deployed by an oil-spill response organization. Coast Guard response teams, along with OMI Environmental Services, are responding to the spill.

Approximately 126 gallons of oil were spilled on deck of the Bravo, but was contained and is being cleaned.

Coast Guard officials said Monday initial assessments show approximately 420 gallons of oil discharged into the river.

The Coast Guard informed down-river parish officials to protect municipal water supplies, adding they were actively monitoring the situation of all three vessels and those area impacted down river.

The cause of the collision is under investigation.

— Staff members Gladys Davis Mulkey and Stephen Hemelt contributed to this report.