Some 420,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled into the Mississippi River early Wednesday, after a 600-foot chemical tanker collided with a fuel barge. The collision split the barge in half; thick, slow-to-evaporate fuel has traveled at least 12 miles downriver. The Coast Guard closed a 29-mile stretch of the river around New Orleans, and residents have been asked to conserve water as drinking-water intakes are closed or diverted. Cleanup is expected to take days. Full environmental impact is yet unclear, but, notes a spokesperson for the Louisiana environmental agency: “We have a lot of wildlife in the southern delta.” To look on the bright side, the spill pales in comparison to the millions of gallons of oil that the Coast Guard estimates were dumped in the river following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Yes, folks, millions — not zero.
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