Coast Guard cooling oil barge near Bayou Perot fire - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Coast Guard cooling oil barge near Bayou Perot fire

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Bayou Perot, La. -

A tugboat captain remains in critical condition with severe burns after his boat hit a gas pipeline near Bayou Perot. The collision caused a huge fire, which continues to burn.

Petroleum gas inside a submerged pipeline fuels the blaze near Bayou Perot. Tuesday night, the Shannon Settoon tug boat was pushing an oil barge when it struck the line.

Coast Guard Capt. Jonathan Burton explains, "The effort continues to burn down the residual gas that's in that line that, as you know, it's 19 miles within checkpoints on that line so it's taking a while."

Chevron owns the gas line. The company is trying to speed up the process. "Chevron is in fact moving in some additional flare barges that they're going to use that are designed to flare off additional gas to burn that down farther," Burton said.

The oil barge that the tug was pushing remains attached to the boat. The tug is burning, but the flames haven't made it to the barge or the 2,200 barrels of crude oil. The Coast Guard is taking preventative measures to make sure the fire doesn't spread. A boat is stationed nearby to help with the effort.

"It's using large pumps using Gulf water to spray the barge down," Burton said.

If the barge becomes cool enough, the Coast Guard hopes to remove it within the next 24 to 48 hours.  But before that happens, Coast Guard crews have to make sure they don't spray too much water.  The Coast Guard doesn't want to extinguish the fire.

Burton explains, "Then it would create a vapor safety hazard for personnel working there if that gas is coming up and not on fire, because when it's on fire it's controlled. And the other thing is, we want to burn off any residual in that pipeline so there's no threat of pollution from the pipeline itself."

10,000 feet of boom have been put in the water around the barge, just in case the oil leaks. But the Coast Guard is hopeful the boom won't be needed.

The investigation into how this accident happened continues.

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