Unified command continues response to barge breakaways on Ohio River

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers members and industry partners continue ice-breaking operations at Emsworth Lock and Dam January 19, 2018. The main chamber is now open and ice is beginning to flow through, however, there is still heavy ice stretching nearly 1 mile above the lock which continues to impact operations after 27 barges broke away from Jack’s Run Fleeting area at mile marker 4 on the Ohio River near Pittsburgh. U.S. Coast Guard photo by MSU Pittsburgh.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers members and industry partners continue ice-breaking operations at Emsworth Lock and Dam January 19, 2018. U.S. Coast Guard photo by MSU Pittsburgh.

PITTSBURGH – The Coast Guard, United States Army Corps of Engineers and industry partners continue to respond to the barge breakaways on the Ohio River near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Moundsville, West Virginia, Saturday.

“The United States Army Corps of Engineers and its contractors made significant progress in clearing ice from the approaches of Emsworth Lock and Dam’s chambers,” said Jeff Hawk, a spokesperson for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. “The Army Corps’ fleet and the contractor have ceased operations after completing the task of clearing space for operation of the lock’s miter gates.”

The main and auxiliary chambers at Emsworth are operational, but the lock remains closed to navigation pending the location of two sunken barges upstream of the facility.

Preliminary damage assessments indicate there is no significant damage to Emsworth Lock and Dam and no environmental concerns from pollution. A more thorough damage assessment will be completed after barges are removed from the Emsworth Lock and Dam’s main and back channel dams.

Transit at mile marker 95.7 near Bellaire, West Virginia is continuing on a case by case basis. Salvage equipment has arrived on scene, and salvage operations are scheduled to begin Sunday.

A reported 34 barges broke away from fleeting areas at mile maker 94 on the Ohio River near Moundsville and 34 barges have been located.

There are a reported two barges in the channel.

25 of the 27 breakaway barges from Jack’s Run Fleeting area at mile marker 4 on the Ohio River near Pittsburgh have been accounted for.

The two unaccounted-for barges are reported to be located above the dam.

The Coast Guard continues to monitor the situation in both locations.

Mariners are advised to be cautious of potential heavy ice flows resulting from the ice breaking efforts at Emsworth Lock and Dam.

Two safety zones, full waterway closures, have been established from mile marker 95 to mile marker 105 and mile marker 2 to mile marker 20 on the Ohio River due to risk of channel obstructions.

The public and industry personnel are urged to ensure barges and vessels are strongly secured due to heavy ice flow on the Ohio and Allegheny River.

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