Tug Collision Causes Environmental Spill

PADUCAH, Ky. – The Coast Guard was notified at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday evening that the towing vessel M/V Kimberly Jane collided with the submerged lock wall at Lock and Dam 52, located on the Ohio River right descending bank at mile marker 939, near Brookport, IL. The M/V Kimberly Jane was pushing a tank barge loaded with approximately 960,000 total gallons of Cumene. As a result of the incident the barge was damaged and subsequently released approximately 7000-8000 gallons of Cumene from the #1 starboard tank based on preliminary tank soundings. The #1 starboard tank was loaded with 164,285 gallons of Cumene.

Cumene is the common name for isopropylbenzene, an organic compound that is an aromatic hydrocarbon derived from benzene and is used to produce polycarbonates, phenolic resins, and essential healthcare products such as aspirin and penicillin. The symptoms of exposure to high levels of Cumene include headaches, irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, euphoria, followed by dizziness, sleepiness, and unconsciousness. Cumene is a central nervous system depressant that, in high concentrations, may cause narcotic effects and may form explosive mixtures with air. Cumene can be detected by its sharp, penetrating aromatic odor at very low concentrations, approximately 50 times lower than the level that can cause toxic effects.

The Coast Guard has established an Incident Command Post at Marine Safety Unit Paducah, KY with a Unified Command consisting of senior representatives from the Coast Guard, Kirby Corporation, and local and state emergency management agencies from the States of Kentucky and Illinois. The Ohio River has been closed to traffic from mile 938 to 940 as a precaution and to support response efforts. The responsible party has contacted a response team to conduct air monitoring, initiate any possible environmental clean up of the release, as well as off loading the cargo to another empty barge. The Coast Guard has requested support from the Atlantic Strike Team, which was expected to arrive later today, and the 41st Civil Support Team, who is currently assisting with conducting air monitoring in the vicinity of the incident. Additionally, Coast Guard investigators will be conducting a thorough marine casualty investigation to determine the cause of the incident.

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