Breakaway barges on the Portland Canal of the Ohio River

Some tense moments on the Portland Canal yesterday morning when a ship towing 11 barges collided with a stationary structure near the McAlpine Lock and Dam in Louisville, Kentucky.

The impact caused 10 of the 11 barges to break loose, with three of them lying against the lower McAlpine dam structure. The US Coast Guard is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

In addition to soybean and corn cargoes, one of the partially submerged barges carries approximately 1,400 tons of methanol in one of its three independent holds, posing a potential environmental hazard.

The Portland Canal is a narrow, man-made waterway in Louisville, Kentucky that connects the main Ohio River canal to the McAlpine Locks and Dam and facilitates the passage of commercial and recreational vessels around the Ohio River Falls.

So far, authorities have confirmed that there is no evidence of a tank rupture or leaks and that both air and water monitoring resources are in place to ensure safety.

The top priority for everyone involved remains the safety of the population and first responders. Fortunately, there was no impact on Louisville Water’s water intake or quality. The river waterway remains open, with local boat traffic services facilitating navigation.

A unified command was established to coordinate the response, led by the US Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley and the Louisville Metro Government Emergency Management Agency. The Kentucky Environment and Energy Cabinet closely monitors water quality, while CTEH oversees air quality ratings.

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