Mississippi Remains Closed After Oil Spill; Carnival Fantasy Could Be Diverted

Some 98 miles of the Mississippi River remains closed after a barge carrying fuel oil collided with a tanker Wednesday, U.S. Coast Guard officials said. There is no timetable set for reopening the river, but a date could be announced Friday at the earliest, Coast Guard officials said.

Carnival Cruise Lines has not said what it plans to do about the Carnival Fantasy, which calls year-round in New Orleans and is due to return to the port with 2,600 passengers Saturday. It could be diverted to Mobile or Galveston, said Robert Jumonville, director of cruise and tourism for the Port of New Orleans. “It is an awfully, awfully expensive diversion for Carnival,” he said.

The incident occurred about one-fourth of a mile upriver from New Orleans’ cruise terminal.

“The barge is right outside our window,” Jumonville said. “They’re hoping the oil will gather on the sides of the river on both banks, which would open a channel in the middle.”

Majestic America Line, which frequently sails from New Orleans, was not affected by the spill as its ship is currently sailing in the upper Mississippi.

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