Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
BATON ROUGE, LA Mississippi River traffic is shut down for a five-mile stretch in Baton Rouge after four barges came loose Friday afternoon, with one of them striking another barge and the other three sinking.
The Coast Guard has halted traffic until they can locate the sunken barges and make sure navigation is safe.
A 195-foot vessel, the Crimson Gem, lost four of its 20 barges, all of which were carrying grain. One of them struckanother bargethat was moored at a dock near the US 190 bridge. That bargewas holding sulfuric acid.
Officials said there were no injuries and that none of the chemicals spilled.
'We did thorough checks on the void spaces to insure that either water or sulfuric acid was not being accumulated,' said Tom Dodds, the operations manager of Rhodia Plant. 'We've done all the checks and we had the Coast Guard double check to make sure there was no leakage.'
The biggest concern now stems from the three other barges that got loose and sank.
'The river will remain closed until the location of all the barges have been confirmed and a safe, navigable waterway has been established,' said Lt. Commander Quincy Davis of the Coast Guard.
It's the second time in a week that barges have gotten loose near the 190 bridge. The area has been tagged as a high risk area for navigation, and historic river conditions have forced heightened restrictions.
Commander Davis said with the investigation in its early stages, the Coast Guard isn't sure if any of the heightened restrictions were not followed.