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6,000 tons of coal sinks in Ohio River after bridge accident

At least 6,000 tons of coal sank into the Ohio River, and federal authorities are continuing to work on a plan to save the remaining barges pinned against the McAlpine Dam.

Fifteen coal barges broke free from a tug boat headed north up the Ohio River earlier this week. Six barges were recovered while another nine floated downriver.

By Friday afternoon, four barges had sunk into the river, each carrying at least 1,500 tons of coal, said U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Michael Metz.

The Army Corps of Engineers is working with the Coast Guard on a plan to safely recover the remaining barges, but they’ll have to overcome a few challenges.

Water levels along the Ohio were higher than normal on Friday and are expected to fluctuate over the weekend. At the same time, at least two more barges are at risk of sinking, said Shawn Kenney with the Army Corps of Engineers.

“There are a couple additional ones that are comprised,” Kenney said. “So we can’t say with certainty that no more will sink.”

The state’s Energy and Environment Cabinet is monitoring the situation and doesn’t believe the coal poses an environmental threat.

“Right now we don’t see any reason that there might be an environmental emergency, but we are monitoring the situation,” Mura said.