RACINE — River traffic has come to a standstill in the area near the Racine Locks and Dam after a tow boat hauling three barges became stuck there.
According to Chuck Minster, public affairs specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers out of Huntington, W.Va., the M/V Austin C. Setton out of Louisiana, was pushing three barges Thursday morning. Around 6 a.m., one of the barges broke loose near the lock and that barge ended up being secured in the lock chamber, while the tow boat with its two remaining barges, was pushed up and stuck against, the actual dam.
Though Minster said it was unclear how many crew members were on the vessel, everyone was evacuated from it and no one was hurt. The Associated Press reported the three barges were loaded with more than 3.7 million gallon of natural gas condensate when it hit the lock wall. It is unclear what exactly happened to cause the incident, Minster added.
The priority at the moment is figuring out how to extract the barges and tow boat from the area so that river traffic can resume with officials from the Racine Locks and Dam, U.S. Coast Guard and others, meeting to remedy the situation on Thursday.
With a barge in the actual lock chamber, nothing can move through. Thursday evening, the Associated Press was reporting the Coast Guard said it left a queue of 13 vessels that are upbound and 11 downbound.
By Thursday afternoon, the tow boat with two barges attached to it was secured and tied off. Minster said it would be at least 24 hours before the tow boat and all barges could be moved due to a swift current on the Ohio River which was expected to crest at some point on Friday.
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