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Barge Breakaway Incident Along Ohio River in Pittsburgh Spurs Emergency Response

26 barges break loose on Ohio River in Pittsburgh; some go over dam

Twenty-three loaded and three empty barges broke free from their moorings along the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, drifting uncontrollably before being recovered, as authorities reported. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but a marina suffered significant damage during the incident, according to Pittsburgh Public Safety.

The barges became unmoored around 11:25 p.m. EDT on a Friday, with eleven of them halting against a riverbank near Brunot Island and subsequently being retrieved by a towboat. Nine others came to a stop at the Emsworth Dam, while five continued downstream and went over the Dashields Dam, as informed by Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Pittsburgh Commander Justin Jolley to the Post-Gazette.

One barge is suspected to have sunk, prompting the Army Corps of Engineers to inspect the Emsworth Dam for potential damage, said Jolley, who attributed the incident to high water levels resulting from recent storms.

Barge Breakaway Incident Along Ohio River in Pittsburgh Spurs Emergency Response

Barge Breakaway Incident Along Ohio River in Pittsburgh Spurs Emergency Response (Credits: KITO 7)

Emergency services in Pittsburgh, including firefighters, EMS, and police, responded to the situation. The McKees Rocks bridge was temporarily closed after the loose barges collided with it, although no damage was reported by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The barges involved belong to the Campbell Transportation Co., situated downstream of the McKees Rocks Bridge on the Ohio River.

This accident occurred just two weeks after the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed following a collision with a container ship, resulting in the deaths of six construction workers and disrupting shipping traffic at the city’s bustling seaport.

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