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Barge Strikes Pipeline, Ignites Blaze

Thursday, March 14, 2013

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A fire so intense that the U.S. Coast Guard was waiting to extinguish it continued to blaze late Wednesday in a Louisiana bayou lafter a tugboat pushing an oil barge struck a pipeline.

Two people were injured, one critically.

The accident occurred about 6 p.m. CT Tuesday (March 12) when a tugboat pushing a barge struck a gas pipeline on Bayou Perot in a marshy area about 30 miles south of New Orleans. The collision touched off a blaze that engulfed both the tug and barge.

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans

In a New Orleans bayou, a tugboat pushing an oil barge struck a gas pipeline on Tuesday, igniting a blaze and injuring two, one critically. The fire is too intense and the water too shallow for the Coast Guard to extinguish it.

The four people aboard the vessel were accounted for, but two were injured. One was suffering burns over 75 percent of his body; the other was knocked off the boat, injuring his side, New Orleans CBS affiliate WWL-TV reported.

According to the Coast Guard, the tugboat's captain was the critically injured victim.

The pipeline is owned by Chevron, the Coast Guard said in a press release.

Intense Fire in Shallow Water

The accident happened in shallow water, as little as one to two feet deep, and the fire was too intense for the Coast Guard to try to extinguish it. It was unclear how long it would take for the fire to burn out, the Coast Guard said late Wednesday. There is an unknown amount of crude oil in the water, the Coast Guard said.

However, WWL-TV reported that the Jefferson Parish Fire Department had the equipment to reach the blaze and was attempting to put it out Tuesday night.

The 47-foot tugboat, the Shannon E. Settoon, was carrying about 1,000 gallons of diesel; the 154-foot barge, owned by Settoon Towing LLC, was carrying about 2,215 barrels of crude oil, a Coast Guard petty officer told PaintSquare News late Wednesday.

Several media outlets had reported that the barge was carrying 92,000 gallons of crude, which is about 25 barrels, or 1,050 gallons, less than the Coast Guard reported.

WWL-TV Eyewitness News viewer Rainey

As of Wednesday afternoon, the fire was reportedly still burning, the Coast Guard said. An oil response organization was on the scene mobilizing containment boom and responder boats.

The petty officer also said that, to the best of his knowledge, the fire was still burning.

Requests for comments from Chevron and Settoon Towing were not immediately returned.

As of Tuesday evening, the pipeline had been shut down, the Coast Guard said.

"We are aggressively responding with our state and local partners to mitigate the fire and prevent any potential impacts from oil that entered the water," said Cmdr. Russ Bowen, incident commander, Sector New Orleans.

Current Response Efforts

The Coast Guard planned to conduct an overflight Wednesday to conduct shoreline impacts and assessments.

A one-mile by 75-foot-wide sheen was reported in the vicinity of the tug and the barge. No evacuations were ordered.

ES&H, an oil spill response organization, wass on the scene responding to the accident and has mobilized 7,218 feet of containment boom and 6,000 feet of 18-inch containment boom, one cabin boat, five responder class boats, one Marco skimmer, and two 24-foot express hull vessels, according to the Coast Guard.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Fire; Health & Safety; Offshore; Oil and Gas; Pipeline

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