Three barges, one of which was transporting 1,400 tons of methanol, were pinned against a dam on the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky, on Tuesday, officials said.
The three were part of a group of 10 that broke free from their tugboat about 2 a.m. Tuesday after it hit a structure at the entrance to the Portland Canal near the McAlpine Locks and Dam, Louisville s Emergency Management Agency said in a statement. One barge remained attached, and all except for the one carrying methanol were transporting soy and corn, the agency said.
The statement said there was no evidence of a tank breach or leaks, and air and water monitoring resources are in place.
The situation caused officials to limit traffic on the river as state and federal agencies responded and tried to remove the three barges, Coast Guard spokeswoman Chris Davis said.
Downriver traffic stopped, and nearby locks that had been reopened after earlier closings would most likely close overnight as officials reassess the situation, he said.
Davis said we had shut down traffic. There's going to be salvage operations, and it's going to be dangerous. The Louisville Water Co. said the incident was downriver from its intake and that there has been no impact on the city's drinking water.
The seven other barges that broke loose were recovered earlier by other vessels in the area, the Army Corps of Engineers said.
No injuries were reported, and no one is missing, it said.
Methanol is used in windshield washer fluid, gas line antifreeze, carburetor cleaner, copy machine fluid, perfumes and other products. According to a white paper on the chemical published by federal health officials, the chemical can be extremely dangerous for humans if ingested and can lead to death, coma and respiratory and circulatory failure.
The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the crash that freed the barges.