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26 barges break loose and float down Ohio River, leading to bridge closures in Pittsburgh


Twenty-six barges loaded mostly with dry cargo broke loose from a Pittsburgh marina late Friday night and floated uncontrollably down the Ohio River, causing extensive damage to neighboring docks according to officials.

The barges, which broke away from a vessel at mile marker one, have all been accounted for, but caused a substantial amount of damage to Peggy’s Marina. A spokesperson for the U.S. coastguard said 23 of the barges were loaded with non-hazardous dry cargo like coal, and three were empty.

A news release from the City of Pittsburg said eleven of the barges were found near a river bank by Brunot Island, and are being held by a tugboat. Nine barges stopped at Emsworth Dam, and of the remaining six which managed to bypass the dam five were located and one is believed to have sunk.

An investigation is underway after 26 barges broke loose on the Ohio River.
An investigation is underway after 26 barges broke loose on the Ohio River.

Both the McKees Rock and West End Bridges in Pittsburgh, which were previously closed out of “an abundance of caution” according to officials, have since reopened.

Campbell Transportation Company, who owns and operates the barges, provided KDKA with the following statement.

“Campbell Transportation Company, Inc. is actively responding to a recent development involving a multi-barge breakaway in Pittsburgh. Our immediate priority is ensuring public safety and minimizing any potential environmental impact,” the statement read. “The incident occurred under high water conditions on the rivers resulting in strong currents due to flooding in the area.”


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