"Fuel Barges Running Afoul on the Columbia River"

"Fuel barges from Tidewater Barge Lines have been involved in five nighttime incidents on the Columbia River since February 2008, including two accidents involving dam locks and three groundings at the river bottom.

The incidents, most recently a 2-day grounding of a Tidewater fuel barge earlier this month near Hood River, did not result in any fuel leaks.

But the number of incidents is up significantly over prior years, U.S. Coast Guard records indicate. The most dramatic: A barge, loaded with gasoline, ran into a wall at The Dalles Dam in May, putting a 4-square-foot gash in its outer hull.

And the federal agencies involved, including the Coast Guard, are giving scant details, citing the confidentiality of ongoing investigations that have now reached up to 16 months long."

Scott Learn reports for the Portland Oregonian July 21, 2009.

Thursday, July 23, 2009