Thursday, September 12, 2019

Nine Barges Allided with McAlpine Dam

I did not learn of this Dec 25, 2018, allision of barges with the upper control structure while researching the McAlpine Dam. I found this information while trying to find out how much tonnage goes through the locks of the Ohio River dams.

(Update: these barges came from a tow that lost its #2 engine as it was going under the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge.

USACE photo by Katie Newton via ProgressiveFarmer

Note the Ohio River is as high downstream as it was upstream at the 27' fall of the Falls on the Ohio last December.
On Dec. 25, 2018, the towing vessel Debbie Graham, which was pushing 15 loaded coal barges carrying approximately 1,500 to 1,800 tons of coal each, made contact with the 2nd Street Bridge on the Ohio River, Louisville, Kentucky, causing 15 barges to break free. According to Lt. Cmdr. Michael Metz, a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) spokesperson, six of the barges were recovered and nine of them ended up at the McAlpine Dam just above the Falls of Ohio. By Jan. 2, seven of those nine barges had sunk. [ProgressiveFarmer]
That article also quotes statements from the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and the Kentucky EPA concerning the coal in the sunken barges. Both statements are an example of using a lot of words to say nothing. They are basically the usual "we need to investigate" vacuous comments. Since the water intake for Louisville is upstream of the spill, I would think that a little coal in the river would have negligible impact. Especially since they do expect that most of the coal will stay in the sunk barges. The first thing the salvage operators will do is remove the coal.
Katie Newton, a spokesperson for the USACE Louisville District, told DTN on Jan. 6 that: "The salvage team moved their equipment Jan. 5 and is now staged at the upper dam site. The salvage plan is being finalized, and we expect work to begin in the next few days." According to the USCG, vessel traffic currently is only permitted in daylight hours between Twelve-Mile Island to McAlpine Lock and Dam, aided by an assist vessel....High water is still causing a reduction of tow sizes between St. Louis and Cairo southbound by five barges, and daylight-only hours remain in place for the railroad bridge between Illmo, Missouri, and Thebes, Illinois, and also the Vicksburg, Mississippi, bridge. High water has also reduced tow sizes between Cairo and the Gulf by five to 10 barges, with daylight transit only through Memphis. Restrictions will remain in place until the water recedes....Russell [of Russell Marine Group] noted that, in the past few weeks, "extremely bad weather," including a combination of high water, rain and dense fog, has "substantially backed up loading operations and ships waiting to load in Baton Rouge and the New Orleans Harbor. The Port is currently extremely congested with ships loading or waiting to load, putting traffic in gridlock. As of Jan. 2, there were 45 ships waiting to sail and 65 ships off the Southwest Pass waiting for entry into the Port," added Russell. [ProgressiveFarmer]

Courier-Journal (countware) has more information including a drone video and 30 photos. (But pause the video before it is done if you want to look at it again.) Of note, one of the sunken barges is blocking a gate from closing. A USACE employee said that the barge could cause trouble because they would loose their pool if they have reduced flow conditions. But let's get real. What are the odds the Ohio River is going to go from flood conditions to a drought in a few weeks? It looks like the river will have a flow high enough that at least some gates will need to be open anyhow for a long time. "Officials said they had not observed any damage to the Clark Memorial Bridge or dam as a result of this week's incident." A spokesman for the Kentucky Division of Water actually provided some useful information: "Goodmann said the division does not believe there is a 'long-term threat to aquatic life or water quality' in the Ohio River following this week's incident." So neither the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and the Kentucky EPA organizations have anybody competent enough to inform their spokes people that coal is not a serious pollutant?

One of 30 photos in Courier-Journal (countware)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reported about the high river levels reducing barge traffic and the Dec 25th accident.

Jack Tanner Towing shared Andrew McCutchen's post of videos and photos. (The skipped numbers are two videos.)

The video has comments of interest:
Brad Herbert: Video of the accident clearly shows what happen. Heavy current heading up river pushing hard. Broke a cable securing the barge(s) to tow boat. Corrected to compensate and broke other side. At the time the bridge pillar was struck, all barges were connected to each other however Tow Boat was loose. Terrible accident caused by compounding issues.
Bert Williams: Brad Herbert nope engine 2 failed on the tow boat then the current took over .



[Some comments agree that the barge is crumpled around the pier.]








[Some comments indicate that coal is not a hazard to the fish. If anything, it would help clean up the river.]
Steven Fancher: Thomas Burke Debbie graham tvt

Jack Tanner Towing shared USACE's post
The final barge was removed from the McAlpine Dam yesterday [May 14, 2019]. Nine barges became pinned against the McAlpine Dam on the Ohio River in Louisville, Ky., following a navigation incident on Dec. 25, 2018. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the navigation industry worked in close coordination to ensure safe and efficient salvage operations. Five barges currently remain on the scene near the Indiana bank upstream of the dam. Salvage crews will continue working to transport those damaged barges offsite.

Albert Dewailly commented on USACE's post
[Note the downstream pool is still high, but not near as high as it was the previous December. The left gate is up so the water is being held by an emergency bulkhead lowered using the slots in the pier.]

Albert Dewailly commented on USACE's post
[A barge loaded with water has to be heavy.]

Albert Dewailly commented on USACE's post

This was the source of these stray barges.

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