Barge Hauling 1,400 Tons Of Methanol Slams Into Ohio River Dam

[Screenshot/YouTube/NBC News]

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A “navigation accident” on the Ohio River caused a barge carrying 1,400 tons of methanol to break free from its vessel and slam into a dam, becoming partially submerged.

Around 2 a.m. Tuesday night, a vessel towing 11 barges in the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky, collided with a stationary structure at the entrance of the Portland Canal close to the McAlpine Lock and Dam, according to a press release from the city. The collision caused 10 of the 11 barges to break free from the vessel, sending three of them into the McAlpine Dam. One such barge was reportedly hauling 1,400 metric tons of methanol and became partially submerged, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet stated.

“Methanol is a toxic alcohol that is used industrially as a solvent, pesticide, and alternative fuel source,” the CDC reported. Though it does occur naturally in humans, animals and plants, methanol can become toxic in large amounts. It also can pose an explosion risk when mixed with “strong oxidants,” like those found in sewers.

“There is currently zero evidence of a tank breach or any leaks, and air and water monitoring resources are in place,” the release from the city assured. (RELATED: Train Derails In West Virginia, Injuring 3 And Spilling Diesel Into River)

“Safety is the top concern – safety of the public and first responder personnel. There is currently no impact to Louisville Water’s water intake or water quality. The river waterway is open through the use of the local vessel traffic services,” the release continued.

The latest release from the city on March 29 indicated the three barges were still pinned against the dam, but air quality and water samples taken at the site and downstream from the dam continue to show “zero evidence of any hazards that would pose a health risk.”

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the incident and teams will continue monitoring the situation until the aftermath of the collision is “fully resolved,” the release continued.