As of 10 a.m. on March 29, 2023, three barges remain settled against the lower McAlpine Dam structure along the Ohio River. Crews have been on-site since daybreak further assessing damage and determining operational objectives for the next 12-24 hours. More than 80 air quality samples have been taken so far and all tests to date show zero evidence of any hazards that would pose a health risk, though teams are continuously monitoring the situation. That monitoring will remain firmly in place until the situation is fully resolved. The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the incident. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet will continue sampling the Ohio River downstream from the dam and will make those results public as soon as available.
The cargo carried aboard the barges are corn, and one vessel with three independent cargo holds containing approximately 1,400 tons of Methanol. According CTEH’s independent toxicology experts, Methanol is a water soluble, colorless liquid. Methanol evaporates when exposed to air, quickly dissolves in water and is readily biodegradable. However, it is potentially harmful if ingested or inhaled in sufficient quantities. Currently, the Methanol contained within the vessel does not pose a risk to the surrounding air or water supply in the greater Louisville area.
There remains no evidence of a tank breach or any leaks, and air and water monitoring resources are in place.
Safety is the top priority of the operation – safety of the public and first responder personnel. The river waterway reopened to river traffic at 7:32 p.m. March 28 through the use of the local vessel traffic services.
Groups and officials currently on the ground include:
- U.S. Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley
- Louisville Metro Emergency Management Agency
- Kentucky Emergency Management / Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- CTEH environmental specialists
- Ingram Barge Company
- Salvage and recovery experts
UPDATE: The next media briefing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 29th at 1 p.m. at the McAlpine Locks and Dam Visitor Center, 2750 Marine Street.