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Unknown Amount of Crude Oil Spills into Major Waterway

Following Saturday barge accident, 65-mile stretch of Mississippi River remains closed to traffic

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

An aerial photograph of halted river traffic following the spill of crude oil into the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans Saturday, February 22. (Photo: Gerald Herbert/ AP)The spill of unknown amounts of crude oil into the Mississippi River has kept a sixty-five mile stretch of the waterway closed for over two days after a oil barge collided with a towboat between Baton Rouge and New Orleans Saturday.

Following the crash, officials reported a "light sheen" on the river surface and halted traffic "to avoid contaminating passing vessels and to prevent oil from spreading downriver," AP reports.

Public drinking water intakes in nearby St. Charles Parish were also closed as a precaution, though officials said the water supply "remains safe."

According to Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Bill Colclough, authorities held a Monday morning conference call to discuss estimates of how much oil has spilled and when the river would re-open to traffic.

This is the third major oil spill in six years to shut down the waterway.