A tugboat pushing an oil barge struck a gas pipeline in a bayou south of New Orleans, Louisiana; causing an explosion and fire in the Gulf of Mexico.
Coast Guard Ensign Tanner Stiehl said the collision happened Tuesday at about 6 p.m. CDT on Bayou Perot, about 30 miles south of New Orleans.
Both the tugboat and the barge engulfed in flames and thick smoke poured into the air.
The barge was holding 92,000 gallons of crude oil, the Coast Guard said. The tug boat had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Alex Washington confirmed the pipeline was shut off, but there was still liquid petroleum gas in the 19-mile pipeline and authorities were waiting for it to burn out.
Energy giant Chevron, who owns the pipeline says the company has isolated the pipeline from other mains; so the incident will only effect what’s in the pipeline and not other areas.
Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts, who represents the area, told WWL-TV the fire was in very shallow water, as little as a foot deep, and authorities would not approach the site until the fire had burned itself out.
There were reports of oil in the water, but authorities had to wait until daylight to find out just how much oil leaked from the barge.
“We are aggressively responding with our state and local partners to mitigate the fire and prevent any potential impacts from oil that entered the water, ” said Cmdr. Russ Bowen, incident commander for the New Orleans area.
Bayou Perot was the area of the explosion and fire on an oil rig in December 2010 in which three men were injured. The explosion happened while the men were welding and there was no pollution, the Coast Guard reported.
Early Wednesday morning, the Coast Guard said in a news release, “All crew members were able to exit the tug; the captain reportedly suffered second to third-degree degree burns.”
Between 75 percent and 85 percent of the man’s body was burned, said Taslin Alfonzo, spokeswoman for West Jefferson Medical Center. The Tugboat captain was brought to West Jefferson hospital about 7:35 p.m. He was expected to be transported to the Burn Unit at Baton Rouge General Hospital, Alfonzo said.
Another man was treated for injuries after he was knocked off the tugboat.
Large barge fire continues to burn in Gulf of Mexico Wednesday morning
Heavy smoke and flames continued to billow into the air Wednesday morning as a large barge burned out of control in Bayou Perot.
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A tugboat pushing an oil barge struck a gas pipeline in a bayou south of New Orleans on Tuesday night, igniting a blaze that burned for hours and left two people injured, one critically.
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