Archive | Rivers, Lakes & Wetlands

Barge Collision Causes Oil Spill in Mississippi River

The Coast Guard worked to clean up 2,100 gallons of an oil byproduct from the Mississippi River after a tow boat and a barge collided Sunday morning.

Louisiana officials said Monday that most of the oil had been contained.

The accident occurred at 5 a.m. under the Port Allen side of the Mississippi River Bridge. The towing vessel crashed into the barge as it was loading “vacuum gas oil,” a byproduct generated during the crude oil refining process. The spilled oil does not pose any health risks, the Coast Guard said.

State Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Rodney Mallett said that most of the oil remained on the barge. Workers removed 385 gallons of the liquid and found no traces left as of Monday morning.

“All potentially impacted water intakes have been notified, and no report of contamination has been reported,” the Coast Guard stated in a news release. “At this point in time, the [vacuum gas oil] is gathering at a natural collection point located at Mile Marker 223 (just North of Dow Chemical) in the form of tar balls ranging in size from golf balls to baseballs.”

The Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Baton Rouge is investigating the collision, WAFB reports.

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WWF Criticizes Croatia River Projects

The World Wildlife Federation is urging Croatia to reconsider its new river regulation projects, which according to the environmental group pose a serious threat to endangered species and oppose European Union laws.
WWF Austria expert Arno Mohl warned in a statement Thursday that the Central European country’s planned projects for the Danube, Drava, Mura, Sava and Neretva rivers could negatively impact the continent’s largest wetland areas and floodplain forests.

“We are very much concerned that new planned river regulation projects along all major rivers in Croatia are threatening unique natural areas and counteracting efforts of the EU to bring water management in line with EU policy and law,” said Mohl.

The extensive regulation programs, which were proposed by the Croatian water management authority, consist of sediment extraction and irrigation projects, AFP reports.

WWF said the plans to destroy some 273 miles of the Danube and Sava rivers are at odds with the EU Water Framework Directive.

Although Croatia is not currently a part of the EU, the country is a candidate for 2012 membership.

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Acid Tanker Capsizes on Rhine River in Germany

A tanker carrying 2,400 tons of sulfuric acid has capsized on Germany’s Rhine river, leaving two crew members missing, officials said.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that initial testing performed downstream showed no indications that the 360-foot (110-meter) tanker was leaking the acid.

The shipping office in Bingen could not say why the tanker capsized.

The two remaining crew members were rescued.

German authorities closed the river to shipping following the accident.

The vessel, which had departed from Ludwigshafen for Antwerp, Belgium, was floating on its side as rescue workers searched for the missing crew members.

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Oil Still Devastates La. Marshes, Tour Finds

Officials say oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster still heavily pollutes the marshes along Louisiana’s coastlines.

State and parish officials gave the press a boat tour of the oil-fouled swamps of Barataria Bay, calling for a stronger cleanup effort from BP and the Obama administration.

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser called the state of the marshes “the biggest cover-up in the history of America,” The Associated Press reported Friday.

Robert Barham, the secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and an outspoken critic of the cleanup effort, also participated in the tour.

AP writer Harry Weber reported that oil is pooling in some areas and boom barriers are often absent or overwhelmed by oil.

“Clearly there is oil here in the marsh but we are working as a team to find a best way to clean it up,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Dan Lauer, who accompanied the press and officials on the tour.

The rapidly eroding marshes along the coast play a key role in protecting Louisiana from hurricanes.

The oil also endangers vulnerable reeds and grasses that feed microscopic marine life, with consequences that will reverberate up the food chain.

The BP oil spill, set off by a blowout on a Macondo rig on Apr. 20, leaked an estimated 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Posted in Aquatic Life, Drilling for Oil, Ecosystems, Oceans & Coastlines, Oil & Petroleum, Rivers, Lakes & Wetlands, Well Drilling0 Comments

Houston Ship Channel Clogged with 15,000 Gallons of Beef Fat

The U.S. Coast Guard is working to clear the Houston Ship Channel of thousands of gallons of beef fat that leaked into the busy marine artery from a storage tank Tuesday.

Officials used pitchforks and fishnets to pierce and round up the oily substance.

“Hopefully they’ll finish clean-up efforts by tonight, or if not early in the morning,” said Coast Guard spokesman Richard Brahms, according to the Wall Street Journal.

An estimated 250,000 pounds of tallow spilled from a nearby on-shore storage tank owned by agricultural products company Jacob Stern & Sons Inc. Some 15,000 gallons of the fat streamed into the channel through a storm drain Tuesday, Brahms said.

“When it hit the water it instantly thickened,” Brahms said, as quoted by “It turned into a thick pattie, which is pretty much what we’re cleaning up now.”

Brahms said the cause of the tank leak is being investigated. Meanwhile, workers are corralling the tallow with boom to open up the channel for ship traffic by early Thursday.

Richard Arnhart, director of the LaPorte region of the Texas General Land Office, said the tallow could pose environmental risks if it washes ashore and smothers marine life. But for now, the fat is not impacting the environment floating on the water.

“Our biggest concern right now is to ensure that this gets cleaned up,” Arnhart said.

Posted in Aquatic Life, Dams & Infrastructure, Industrial Pollution, Rivers, Lakes & Wetlands, Water Pollution0 Comments

Up to 100,000 Dead Fish Wash Up Along Arkansas River

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is faced with finding an explanation for the 80,000 to 100,000 fish that washed up dead on the shores of the Arkansas River last week.

Game and Fish spokesman Keith Stephens told it would likely take about a month to determine the cause of the large-scale fish death.

The fish were discovered Thursday by a tugboat operator in a 20-mile segment of the river near the city of Ozark.

One day later, as many as 5,000 birds dropped dead in Beebe, Arkansas, about 125 miles away from Ozark. Scientists are pointing to a possible lightning storm or high-altitude hail as the source of that mystery.

Nearly all of the dead fish – about 95 percent – were identified as drum fish, leading experts to believe the mass kill was caused by a species-specific disease.

“If it was from a pollutant, it would have affected all of the fish, not just drum fish,” Stephens said.

Drum fish are bottom feeders and are not desirable to fishermen. Stephens said the commission is not planning a cleanup but will allow birds and raccoons to take care of the mess.

“So far, the evidence does not suggest that pollution contributed to either the bird or fish kill,” said David Lyons, the head of a local chapter of the Sierra Club, according to “If the test results indicate that contaminants were responsible, then local environmental groups will likely have several questions and concerns about the two events.”

Posted in Aquatic Life, Fish, Rivers, Lakes & Wetlands0 Comments

Chesapeake Bay to Go on Pollution Diet

The Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday unveiled a restoration plan for the heavily polluted Chesapeake Bay.

EPA regional administrator Shawn M. Garvin called the agreement with six states and the District of Columbia “the largest water pollution strategy plan in the nation” and possibly “number one or number two” in the world, the Washington Post reported.

The comprehensive plan applies to the following areas in the bay’s watershed: Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. All the states and the District submitted individual plans this fall addressing how they hoped to slash pollution runoff into the bay by 2025. EPA compiled these proposals in its plan.

Pollution from farm, urban, and suburban runoff have stifled oxygen levels in the 200-mile-long estuary and harmed fish and oyster populations.

Garvin said EPA may have to “place additional controls on permanent sources of pollution” to counterbalance three potentially problematic areas: New York wastewater treatment, West Virginia’s agricultural sector, and Pennsylvania’s stormwater treatment.

The plan aims to reduce phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment pollution by imposing total maximum daily load (TMDL) limits on areas in the estuary’s watershed.

Opponents of the new pollution measures say they will give farmers, developers, and local officials unneeded costs and difficulties. Environmentalists counter that the plan will bring economic benefits to the bay by boosting tourism and fishing.

“This is a very historic moment in the history, and the future, of the Chesapeake Bay,” Garvin told the press.

Posted in Aquatic Life, Drinking Water, Groundwater, Springs & Aquifers, Oceans & Coastlines, Policies, Rivers, Lakes & Wetlands, Water Pollution0 Comments

Action Urged on Falling Lake Levels

MILWAUKEE, March 23 (UPI) — People who live and work near Lake Michigan are urging the United States and Canada to take action on falling water levels resulting from years of dredging.

They are urging the two governments to consider building water-throttling structures on the St. Clair River, the main outflow of both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday.

Dredging on the river in the 1800s caused unexpected erosion and led to a 16-inch drop in the level of both lakes. Additional dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1962 has caused a further drop of 3 to 5 inches, the newspaper said.

The International Joint Commission, which oversees U.S. and Canadian boundary water issues, released a study in December that confirmed the most recent drop in levels but said the problem was not large enough to require immediate action.

Opponents of the study disagree.

“The study, even though it is well intentioned, is not dealing with the major problem, which is lake levels on Huron and Michigan,” retired marina operator Frank Forkert said. “Something has to be done, it’s hurting us,”

“This study on the St. Clair tells us — and tells the whole world — that the lake levels are down and it’s about time we did something about it,” Forkert said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Red River Water Levels Expected to Rise

FARGO, N.D., March 20 (UPI) — The National Weather Service says the Red River’s water levels in the area of Fargo, N.D., should rise to 37.5 feet, well above flood stage levels.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead said the service’s forecast for Sunday would surpass Saturday morning’s Red River measurement of 36.43 feet, which represents the river’s eighth-highest reading in recorded history.

Both Saturday’s measurement and Sunday’s forecasted levels are far above the river’s minor flood stage of 18 feet. The river’s major flood stage in the Fargo area is 30 feet.

The New York Times said Fargo got a slight reprieve from Red River flooding Friday when temperatures in the area dropped. The decrease in temperature limited the melting snow blamed for the river’s rising water levels.

While the river’s water levels are expected to potentially reach 38 feet, at least one Fargo city official appeared confident in the city’s emergency fortifications.

“Things are quiet. Things are looking good,” Fargo’s communications director, Karena Carlson, offered.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in History, Rivers, Lakes & Wetlands0 Comments

Three Rivers Flooding Central Greece

ATHENS, Greece, Feb. 19 (UPI) — Tens of thousands of acres of farmland in central Greece were under water Friday after three rivers spilled over their banks, officials said.

Earlier this week, the Evros and Kastoria rivers overflowed and Thursday the Peneios River burst its banks, the daily Kathimerini newspaper reported.

Initial reports from farmers said the Pineios flood had submerged about 5,000 acres.

In all, more than 50,000 acres of farmland in central Greece were under water because of unusually heavy rainfall, and preliminary government damage estimates were in the millions of dollars, the report said.

Damage to houses and buildings was estimated to be minimal in the rural areas, although many roads were impassable, the report said.

The rivers were forecast to rise between 3-8 inches in coming days, officials said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Buildings, Rivers, Lakes & Wetlands0 Comments

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