Coast Guard responds to breakaway barges on Monongahela River

8th Coast Guard District NewsPITTSBURGH — The Coast Guard is responding to the report of an allision from two barges breaking away from a towing vessel at the Liberty Highway Bridge on the Monongahela River, Thursday.

At approximately 2:30 a.m., watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley received a report that the towing vessel Marge Mcfarlin, owned and operated by Ingram Barge Company, allided with the Liberty Highway Bridge at mile marker 1.1 on the Monongahela River, while pushing 12 loaded coal barges. The allision resulted in two barges breaking away. The remaining barges are safely contained.

One barge sank in the vicinity of the Fort Pitt Bridge, and the second barge drifted downriver where it struck a barge fleeting area, causing a moored barge to break loose. Both barges are resting at mile marker 0.8, at the foot of Smithfield Street Bridge.

A Coast Guard investigation team is on scene conducting a marine casualty investigation. The barge owner’s representative is on site evaluating the situation and developing a salvage plan to remove the sunken barge from the river where it poses a hazard to navigation.

“We are actively engaged in response operations, and we are working closely with our port partners to complete salvage operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Richard Dittmar, executive officer for Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Pittsburgh. “We are committed to restoring a safe, efficient and navigable waterway for the maritime communities of Pittsburgh.”

The Coast Guard has implemented a safety zone on the Monongahela River from mile marker 0.0 to mile marker 1.2, closing the river to all traffic.

There are no reports of pollution or injuries.

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