News & Events for Chesapeake Bay

UPDATE: Tenn-Tom Waterway still closed in Tishomingo County after oil spill

Date Posted: 2019-09-11
Source: Ted Stehle, Navigation Alerts Editor

Editor's Note: See Nav Alerts for continuing updates on this story as it unfolds.

NEW SITE, Miss.  - The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway remains closed after an accident created a hazardous spill at the Jamie Whitten Lock & Dam.

UPDATE - 9/23/19: Today's call reported substantial progress. On Friday and Saturday pressure washing the lock walls was not removing the oil. Late Saturday approval was received to use a cleaning product. That has worked and the clean up continues. Assuming no additional problems, the lock will be cycled two times on Wednesday. If there is not a sheen on the water, the lock will be declared operational. If there is a sheen, then the next step will be discussed.

There are presently 8 tows in the queue downbound, 12 upbound. Locking will begin with the upbound traffic, and it will take one full day and night of locking to clear the queue. Once the downbound tows are cleared, please craft will be worked in as the lock cycles for the remaining upbound traffic.

Please craft should monitor VHF-18 on Wednesday.

The next update will be 9/25/19 at 1130 EDT.

9/20/19: Today's call reported continued progress but not a lot of change. Clean up of the lock walls continues and the number of personnel working the night shift has increased. It is doubtful that the clean up will be completed this weekend; best estimate is an opening early to mid next week. There are approximately 9 southbound and 6 northbound tows waiting at this time. They will have priority but efforts will be made to work in pleasure craft.
The next update is scheduled for Monday, September 23, at 1130 EDT.

UPDATE - 9/11/19: A conference call with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (USACE) Mobile District confirmes that the oil spill was approximately 117 thousand gallons. Clean up is a two-phased operation.

Phase I is removing the spilled oil. That is going well and may be completed by September 15.

Phase II is washing down the lock chamber, fuel barge and other equipment. That operation is in the planning stage. Crews are working 24/7.

A conference call on September 9 with the Corps Mobile District had projected the closure to last 2 to 3 weeks. The length of time to completion is not known at this time and original 2 to 3 weeks was estimate retracted during the September 11th conference call.

The Jamie Whitten Lock & Dam is located at Bay Springs Lake in Tishomingo County. The lock is east of New Site in Tishomingo County.According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the “vessel accident” happened on Sunday. The merchant vessel was loaded with two barges of crude oil.

The lock is closed to all traffic until further notice. The lock and dam are part of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The oil is contained inside the lock and the Corps of Engineers said there is no threat outside of the lock area.



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