More than a dozen barges broke loose Thursday afternoon and floated down the Monongahela River, authorities said.
About 15 barges loaded with coal were reported to be moving downstream from the Rankin Bridge shortly before 4 p.m., according to Allegheny County emergency officials.
At least one of the barges sank, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Lora Ratliff.
There is a very serious situation here in the river. Multiple bridges are closed. I am reaching out to DEP to assess the environmental impact and will keep my constituents updated. https://t.co/uISPWTTS4C
— Senator Jay Costa (@Senatorcosta) May 24, 2018
Allegheny County said on its official Twitter account that three barges were stuck on the Rankin Bridge and four others were floating toward the Homestead Gray’s Bridge.
Rankin: Reports of 15 barges loaded with coal that have broken loose on Monongahela River. 3 struck the Rankin Bridge and 4 headed toward Homestead Grays (High Level) Bridge, which has been closed to traffic. Responders are at the scene.
— Allegheny County (@Allegheny_Co) May 24, 2018
Authorities shut down the Rankin Bridge and Homestead Grays’ Bridge to traffic for more than three hours. The bridges reopened around 8:15 p.m.
Only the Rankin Bridge was impacted by the barges, and an inspection crew was sent to ensure the integrity of the structure.
Th Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard and police from multiple municipalities were responding.
A number of tug boats and other water craft responded to secure the barges, officials said.
It was not immediately clear where the barges broke loose.
First Published May 24, 2018, 1:51pm