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Barge Accident Closes Mississippi River
January 28, 2013

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The headaches continue for farmers and others shipping goods in barges up and down the Mississippi River.

In the latest delay, a 16-mile stretch of the river near Vicksburg, Miss., was closed after one of a pair of barges that hit a railroad bridge then leaked a large amount of oil into the river. As a result, more than 300 barges were delayed, 142 going north and 162 going south.

The leaking barge was filled with 80,000 gallons of oil. It was not immediately known how much had spilled into the river. Shipping officials said that the river could be closed for a few days while the cleanup was completed. As a result, shipments of soybeans and others crops will just have to wait.

That will no doubt be news of concern to a great many farmers and merchants, who depend on the Mississippi River for sending their products on to other markets. More than half of all shipments of American-grown corn, soybean, and wheat go down the Mississippi River and through the Gulf of Mexico.

Just last week, a barge hit a lock gate further north, near St. Louis. The collision damaged the gate, and repairs took more than a day to complete.

Earlier, shipping officials had warned that low water levels could force closure of the river near Cairo, Ill., because of fears that laden barges could scrape the bottom.

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