On September 12, the 30 meter long, 218 gt towboat Jacob Kyle Rusthoven caught fire on the Mississippi River at mile marker 664 near Helena-West Helena, Arkansas. The towboat was pushing 9 barges loaded with rocks when the fire broke out in the vessel’s engine room. The crew was unable to contain the blaze and sent out a distress call. A nearby vessel came to their and evacuated the crew. The Jacob Kyle Rusthoven was then pushed to the Arkansas shoreline where local fire fighters were able to extinguish the blaze 7 hours later. No reports of injuries.
The Coast Guard had stopped nearby traffic on the Mississippi River during the incident. Reports state the Jacob Kyle Rusthoven had some 13,300 gallons of diesel fuel on board at the time, but no pollution was detected. Authorities stated that 3 of the rock barges had broken free during the incident, but were later recovered.
On January 24, the towboat Virginia Renee sank on the Mississippi River at Hickman Landing near Blytheville, Arkansas. The towboat had sunk at its berth releasing oil pollution into the river. Booms and absorbent pads were placed around the Virginia Renee to contain the pollution.
Reports state the towboat had some 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board at the time of the sinking. The Coast Guard has launched an investigation into the incident. No reports of injuries.
The towboat Bootsie B was pushing a tow of 28 barges, 13 empty and 15 loaded with cargo, when it ran aground near Greenville. All the barges and towboat were later refloated. There were no injuires, damage or pollution released.
The 145 foot long towboat David L. Fields was pushing a barge southbound when the barge ran aground near Brownsville, Minnesota. No reports of injuries, damage or pollution released. Officials started emergency dredging operations as sediment has built up in the area where the barge grounded. As the Mississippi’s water level has dropped to historic lows due to the severe drought, barges have been restricted to drafts less than the normal nine feet. Officials closed traffic on the Mississippi River at the two locations due to the groundings.