The oil appeared to be coming from one or two tanks located at the stern of the first barge, Gomez had said previously. He said that there was no indication that any oil was leaking from the second barge and that it was still unclear whether the second barge also hit the bridge or was damaged through a collision with the first.
The barges are owned by Third Coast Towing LLC, Gomez said. According to a website listed under that name, the company is located in Corpus Christi, Texas. A woman who answered the phone Monday at Third Coast Towing LLC declined to comment.
Both vessels were being pushed by the tugboat Nature's Way Endeavor. The website for Nature's Way Marine LLC of Theodore, Ala., identifies the vessel as a 3,000-horsepower, 90-foot-long boat. It was built in 1974 and underwent a complete rebuild in 2011, according to the company.
A company manager referred calls to the Coast Guard command center at Vicksburg.
The last time an oil spill closed a portion of the lower Mississippi River, it was for less than a day last February after an oil barge and a construction barge collided, spilling less than 10,000 gallons of oil. In 2008, a fuel barge collided with a tanker and broke in half, dumping 283,000 gallons of heavy crude into the waterway and closing the river for six days.
When barges it the Vicksburg bridges, a sharp bend in the river is sometimes blamed. In March 2012, barges carrying grain broke loose and hit the old U.S. 80 bridge. A barge scraped the bridge in July 2011.
On March 23, 2011, several barges broke loose and some hit the U.S. 80 bridge and Interstate 20 bridge. One was hung up on the I-20 bridge for about three weeks before it was removed.