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Fire in the Bayou: Oil-Carrying Barge, Tugboat Ablaze After Crashing into Gas-Filled Pipeline

Barge carrying 92,000 gallons of oil; Coast Guard has not yet assessed extent of leak

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

(Photo via WWL-TV)

A tug boat pushing an oil barge crashed into a Chevron-owned liquid petroleum gas pipeline Tuesday evening in a bayou south of New Orleans sparking fire on board the two vessels and causing unknown amounts of oil to leak into the marshy area "heavily affected" by the 2010 BP oil disaster.

Due to the ongoing fire, as of Wednesday morning officials have not yet been able to approach the scene and assess how much oil has leaked from the barge.

The barge was holding 92,000 gallons of crude oil, the Coast Guard reports, and the tug boat carried about 1000 gallons of diesel fuel. Local news station WWL-TV is reporting that a sheen of burned crude oil is visible on the water.

Coast Guard Ensign Tanner Stiehl said that Chevron has isolated the pipeline from other mains and is waiting for the remaining gas to finish burning off before approaching the site.

All four people who were on the tug boat are accounted for. The captain reportedly suffered second to third degree burns and remains in critical condition.

The accident occurred in a shallow section of Bayou Perot about 30 miles south of New Orleans. According to the Associated Press, the bayou is located along the northern tip of Barataria Bay, which was "heavily affected" by oil from the BP spill in 2010.

The region, which is "criss-crossed by pipelines and wellheads" is home to a number of "small communities where people often make their living from the sea, either working in the oil and gas industry or as fishermen," they write.

Bayou Perot was also the scene of an oil rig explosion in December 2010.



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