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Loose barge carrying toxic alcohol compound partially submerged at McAlpine Dam in Louisville: Officials

Kentucky EEC

(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) — A set of locks for an Ohio River dam in Kentucky is closed due to a “navigational incident” after 10 barges were released from a tugboat, including one barge carrying 1,400 tons of a toxic alcohol compound, officials said.


The incident occurred at roughly 2 a.m. Tuesday, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Of 11 total barges, 10 became loose from a tugboat; three barges became pinned to the dam, and one additional barge was pinned against a pier, the agency said.

The Army Corp of Engineers said it recovered the barge pinned against the pier by noon Tuesday. It wrote in a statement that the remaining six barges were recovered, adding that the dam’s locks will remain closed until the “barges on the dam are stabilized.”

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet said in a tweet that the barge carrying methanol is partially submerged at the McAlpine Locks and Dam in Louisville, Kentucky. The incident prompted Louisville Fire to deploy hazmat monitoring to the dam, according to a Louisville Metro Emergency Services representative.

“The barge companies are marshaling significant resources in response to the incident and will assess the situation and determine next steps,” the representative wrote. “In the meantime, Louisville Fire has deployed Haz-Mat monitoring and LMPD and LFD are surveying the area until the private company arrives on scene.”

The closest water intake on the Ohio River from the affected dam is in Henderson, Kentucky — more than 100 miles away from Louisville, according to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

“There is no impact to Louisville Water’s water intake or water quality,” the utility company wrote in a tweet. “Your water is safe to drink.”

No one was injured in the incident.

Accumulations of methanol vapors in confined spaces can be explosive if ignited, according to the National Institutes of Health.

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