Infrastructure damage has yet to be determined after barges broke loose from a vessel and struck a stationary structure at the entrance to the Portland Canal near the McAlpine Locks and Dam on the Ohio River in Louisville, Ky

Ten of 11 barges broke loose and three settled against the lower McAlpine Dam structure in the incident that occurred shortly after 2 a.m. March 28. The vessels carried soy, corn and 1,400 tons of methanol. 

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said in a March 29 press briefing that one barge has been removed and two remain pinned against the structure, which salvage crews were still working to remove. 

Vehicle traffic on the river was stopped following the incident but has resumed on a restricted basis. 

“There is no evidence of [methanol] leaks at this time,”  Greenberg said.

Eighty air quality samples have shown no evidence of hazards that would pose a health risk and water quality also is being monitored, he said.  

It is not yet possible to visually confirm if there is any damage to the dam structure. 

“At this time, there is no evidence that the loose barges have caused any damage to the McAlpine Locks and Dam,” said Abby Korfhage, spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District. “However, it is hard to tell for certain with the high water levels and the two remaining barges still pinned on the lower dam site.” 

She noted that the incident was caused because "the tow broke apart when making the approach to the Portland Canal."

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the incident.