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Newsbreak: Toxic Compound Scare as Barges Crash into McAlpine Locks and Dam, Forcing Closure in Louisville

The McAlpine Locks and Dam in Louisville, Kentucky, had to be closed following a navigational incident. According to a report by ABC News on March 29, 2023, ten barges were released from a tugboat, with one barge containing 1,400 tons of a toxic alcohol compound. Of the 11 barges in total, three were pinned to the dam, and one more was pinned against a pier. The Army Corps of Engineers successfully recovered the barge pinned against the pier by noon on Tuesday, and the remaining six barges were also recovered. However, the locks of the dam will remain closed until the barges are stabilized.


Louisville Fire deployed hazmat monitoring to the dam after the barge carrying methanol partially submerged. Methanol vapors in confined spaces can be explosive if ignited, according to the National Institutes of Health. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet reported on March 28, 2023, that the closest water intake from the affected dam is more than 100 miles away from Louisville in Henderson.


However, according to a report by the Courier Journal on March 29, 2023, there is no impact on Louisville Water’s water intake or water quality, and the water is safe to drink. Fortunately, there were no injuries in the incident. The barge companies are marshaling resources in response to the incident and will assess the situation and determine next steps. In the meantime, LMPD and LFD are surveying the area until the private company arrives on the scene.


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