Although the millions streaming into New Orleans this week are there for the Big Game, anyone flying over nearby Vicksburg will be welcomed by an unfortunate site: a massive oil spill still flooding parts of the lower Mississippi River.
The unified command's respond to the spill caused early Sunday by a Nature's Way Marine LLC towing barge collision is happening in the lower Mississippi River near Vicksburg, Miss.
A lightering and salvage plan has been approved and numerous crews are responding to begin removing oil from the damaged barge, the Guard says.
Crews have deployed 2,800 feet of boom to contain the source of the oil leak, according to today's press relase. Skimming vessels have recovered about 2,300 gallons of oil-water mixture so far.
Tank levels are being continually monitored, according to the Guard.
The leaking tank contained approximately 80,000 gallons of light crude oil. An estimated 7,000 gallons of oil is unaccounted for with an unknown quantity potentially contained in the void spaces of the damaged barge.
The Mississippi is closed to traffic for 16 miles in the surrounding area. Currently there are 21 northbound and 34 southbound vessels affected due to the river closure, the Guard says.
Mississippi River vessel traffic queue management is ongoing, and vessels will be allowed to return freely "as soon as it is environmentally and operationally safe to do so."
Personnel from Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River, Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Vicksburg and the Coast Guard Gulf Strike Team from Mobile, Ala., are on scene .
Unified command consists of representatives from the Coast Guard, State on-scene coordinators from Mississippi and Louisiana and Nature's Way Marine. As reported yesterday, Nature's Way Marine was involved in the BP oil spill recovery and afterwards was cited by at least one cleanup worker for unsafe practices.
The Coast Guard investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Bold marks/hyperlinks are those of the Examiner's.