The U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday reopened the Mississippi River near Vicksburg to north and southbound towboat traffic following the completion of oil removal operations. The reopening comes nearly a week after the initial tanker accident that caused the spill.
After days of limiting barge traffic and delaying vessels, the Captain of the Port reduced the safety zone to one mile centered on either side of the two barges with no passing or overtaking within the zone.
"The Coast Guard is no longer actively managing the flow of towboat traffic and we are minimizing the safety zone to a one-mile distance to ensure the safety of response crews still working on the MOC-12 barge," said Capt. William Drelling, federal on scene commander for the Vicksburg oil spill.
The light crude oil product in the tank barges was effectively removed to complete damage assessments and temporary repairs to prepare them for transit to a waiting marine facility. The barges will be moved following approval of a transit plan.
Skimming vessels recovered more than 2,300 gallons of oil-water mixture during cleanup operations.
The cleanup crew consists of representatives from the Coast Guard, state on-scene coordinators from Mississippi and Louisiana and the owner of the towing vessel, Nature's Way Marine LLC.
Personnel from Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River, Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Vicksburg and the Coast Guard's National Strike Force are on scene as part of a unified command effort to oversee cleanup and salvage operations.