2008 has been an action packed year for river-related news. First up is the river-story-of-the-summer: the sinking of two iron-ore barges and their heroic rescue by “Large Marge” (pictured below).
Earlier this summer, two Ingram barges loaded with iron ore broke loose just before entering the Portland Canal. The barges quickly sank but the Coast Guard reported no major injuries or pollution occurred. White buoys were installed marking the location of the submerged barges and the river was opened up to traffic as a salvage operation was being devised. Ingram Barge of Nashville, TN had some ‘splainin to do less than a week later when another of its barge tows loaded with coal collided with the submerged vessels, causing damage to two barges and requiring emergency repair. Oops!
Next, while trying to free a grounded barge, two rescue barges collided, rupturing an oil tank and dumping a dozen gallons (!) into the Ohio River’s pristine natural habitat. A Coast Guard Pollution Response Team was rushed in to clean up the mess with absorbent pads tied to sticks which “greatly minimized the environmental impact” of the spill. The Coast Guard is investigating the incident.
Lastly, the Ohio River may have seen the last of the wooden steamer the Delta Queen. The Majestic America cruise boat is being denied an operational exemption for wooden boats by Congress. Company President Joe Ueberroth is understandably upset:
When we look at the circumstances surrounding the Delta Queen, it symbolizes what is wrong in America. I ask myself, what has America come to when unions are actively fighting against American jobs? What has America become when our politicians are not fighting to protect our history and traditions? What has our Congress evolved to when committee chairs are so powerful that they, at their sole discretion, will not let legislation that has passed 9 times even reach the floor for a vote?
Will this national landmark be saved and return to fight the Belle of Louisville in next year’s Great Steamboat Race? Will we see the giant vessel tie on to the wharf, delivering hundreds of tourists to the streets of downtown Louisville? Or will the boat be burned by Congress and become a floating museum?
- Two Ingram barges sink near Portland Canal (Business First)
- Ingram Barge Co. has second Louisville barge mishap at scene of first (Business First)
- Effort to save Delta Queen paddlewheeler gaining steam (USA Today)
- Louisville Oil Spill Recovery Efforts Completed (Coast Guard News)
- River Traffic Resumes After Barge Crash (YouTube, WLKY)
- Ingram barges raised from Ohio River (Business First)