Oil Spill on Mississippi River Delays More than 1,000 Barges

An oil spill Sunday has delayed barges on one of the country’s busiest shipping routes.

An oil spill caused by a barge accident on the Mississippi River forced the partial closure of this major shipping route and led to the backup of more than 1,000 barges.

A barge on the river struck a railroad bridge Sunday, leaking crude oil into the water. The 80,000-gallon tanker barge leaked so much oil in to the river that 2,800 feet of boom has been deployed to contain the spill.

The Mississippi River is vital to the U.S. shipping industry, especially for shipping grain, coal, and fertilizer among other products. In fact, nearly 65 percent of the country’s grain production is shipped via the river.

Yesterday, 34 vessels hauling 532 barges were heading north on the river and 37 southbound vessels hauling 524 barges were delayed due to the oil spill. Sixteen miles of the river were closed as crews worked to contain the leak.

While grain exports are not expected to be impacted, corn and soybeans that are being delivered to ships in the gulf may not arrive on time.