The Mississippi River remains open to maritime traffic, and no vessels entering or exiting the river have required cleaning because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. No ship calls have been delayed or cancelled because of the spill.
Although the forecasts have predicted a segment of the oil spill moving to the west, the Bar Pilots conducted a survey Friday morning of a five-mile radius around Southwest Pass that showed no oiling around the main entrance to the Mississippi River.
As a precaution, several cleaning stations have been established. The plan for cleaning vessels in the Port of New Orleans and surrounding area is as follows:
- Inbound vessels with a heavy oil sheen would first go to an offshore cleaning station about four miles southwest of Southwest Pass. That station would knock off any heavy material, and the ship’s hull could be further cleaned in Southwest Pass if necessary.
- Inbound vessels needing or desiring cleaning would be cleaned in Southwest Pass while they are in transit. Two crew boats are stationed in that area and they will navigate on either side of the vessel and pressure wash it while it is underway at a slow speed.
- Inbound vessels needing to clean while under anchor would be cleaned in vicinity of Venice/Boothville.
- An outbound offshore cleaning station is located in the vicinity of 28 degrees, 17 minutes (28-17N) North and 088 degrees, 42 minutes (088-42W) West. It is near the shipping lane outside of the oil spill area and would also use pressurized water to clean ship hulls.
- On the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, a cleaning station at mile marker 33 has been established in case a shallow draft vessels transiting the waterway need to be cleaned.