April 12, 2018 / 7:18 PM / 7 days ago

Coast Guard shuts part of Mississippi River after oil spill near New Orleans

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The United States Coast Guard said on Thursday it had shut a 10-mile (16.1 km) stretch of the Mississippi River in downtown New Orleans after a vessel spilled oil into the river.

New Orleans, which sits near the mouth of the Mississippi, is an important transit point for energy, metals and agriculture commodities moving to overseas and domestic markets. Vessel traffic was halted between mile markers 91 and 101, the Coast Guard said.

No injuries were reported.

The closing stalled 12 commercial vessels on the river, according to Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Third Class Travis Magee. It was unclear when that stretch of the waterway would be reopened, he said.

The Singapore-flagged vessel Pac Antares, which was carrying silicon manganese, hit a pier, causing the vessel’s diesel fuel to spill, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said. Authorities earlier had warned of strong river currents in the area due to spring snow melt.

Federal and state authorities were responding to the spill. The Pac Antares was moored at Nashville Avenue Wharf in New Orleans and the leak has been plugged, the maritime military service said.

Reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston, and Nallur Sethuraman and Nithin Prasad in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler and Matthew Lewis

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