Coast Guard to begin oil cleanup from Mississippi River

The search area for spilled slurry oil gets smaller. The coast guard reopened a stretch of the Mississippi River this weekend because they believe slurry oil was not pulled downstream. The Coast Guard completed their first goal: unloading the remaining oil from the barge to keep it from leaking more oil into the river.

After draining the oil from the barge, they now need to find out how to move and repair the barge. As for the spill, the oil is concentrated in two places near where the spill happened: Columbus Belmont State Park. The Coast Guard is now using dive teams and sonar to keep tabs on the oil until they can remove it.

Oil in the river brings Coast Guard members from across the nation, and Chief Machinery Technician, Pablo Perez says every oil spill can be a challenge. He says now they are figuring out the extent of the damage and how they need to move the barge. Perez says neither the public nor the natural resources have been affected by the oil yet.

Perez says, "we’re still developing recovery methods since its a heavier-than-water type of oil so it’s not easy to add absorbents to the oil have to submerge products to adhere to the product to get it up."

But now the Coast Guard can move onto the next phase. The river water does not look out-of-the-ordinary, and that’s because the coast guard is constantly testing water, air, and land samples– all coming back normal.

The clean up has still had its challenges. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer, Bobby Nash says so far they’ve stayed within their goals: no wildlife incidents, and no injuries. He says they’ve made significant progress, but there is still oil in the water.

Nash says, "a lot of us live and work in this area too, so we want to return our homes back to normal too."

The Coast Guard is working to figure out the best way to remove the oil, and those are some of the tests the coast guard is conducting now.

The Coast Guard does not have an estimate on how much clean up has cost. Once the investigation is closed, the responsible party will be responsible for the cost, so tax payers won’t foot the bill.

The Coast Guard does not know how much longer clean up will take.

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