On April 21 the U.S. Coast Guard notified the department’s Environmental Emergency Response section that up to 87 barges broke loose from their moorings near Mississippi River mile marker 172 near Lemay. The count of barges was later reassessed at 114 with nine barges missing. Four barges hit the I-255 Bridge, also known as the Jefferson Barracks Bridge, causing a temporary closure at that time. At total of 10 barges sank, including nine coal barges. Four barges carrying hazardous materials, or hazmat, were secured at the bank with no reported leakage. The rest of the barges were pushed into the bank along the river. Emergency responders reported that no surface water intakes for drinking water can be affected if a leak should occur.
The hazmat barges were assessed, with none found to be leaking. One of the barges carrying dry caustic soda (sodium hydroxide), never lost its mooring. Another barge carrying caustic soda was located in good condition and returned to river mile 171. A barge carrying mono ethyl glycol was located in good condition. That barge was attached to an empty naphtha solvent barge which was damaged but not leaking. Those barges were also returned to river mile 171.
The Environmental Emergency Response section is the department’s front line of defense against significant and imminent hazardous substance releases, natural or man-made disasters, or homeland security threats that impact public safety and the environment. Responsibilities include responding to any chemical, petroleum, or other material spilled on to the land, or into the water or air, that may impact the public health and safety and the environment.
The Environmental Emergency Response section is called to the scene of more than 300 emergencies each year, including fires, traffic accidents, leaking storage tanks and other incidents that could have a negative environmental impact. The department’s 24-hour spill line receives more than 1,600 incident reports annually.
To report an environmental emergency, including fuel spills, please contact the spill line at (573) 634-2436. You can report a suspected environmental concern through the department’s online reporting form.