The entrance to the Mississippi River remains free of oil and deep draft navigation remains unrestricted to the Port of New Orleans. The Associated Branch Pilots have not encountered any oil as they guide vessels over the Bar between Southwest Pass and its entrance in the Gulf of Mexico.
Projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that neither light sheen nor heavy oil are expected to be present at Southwest Pass through Thursday morning. Forecasters are not able to make reliable projections beyond Thursday.
As a precaution, two cleaning stations have been established in the Mississippi River, but no vessels have been required to be cleaned. The Coast Guard issued the following Marine Safety bulletin on Monday Morning:
"Waterway Status - Vessel Cleaning Station on LMR
"Southwest Pass remains open to deep draft vessels and is free of any restrictions to marine traffic.
"It is the intent of the Captain of the Port of New Orleans to facilitate the movement of marine traffic to the fullest extent possible throughout the duration of the oil spill response. To that end, the Coast Guard will examine all measures necessary to ensure commerce through the Mississippi River and the Intracoastal Waterway continues with a minimum of restrictions.
"Two vessel decontamination stations have been established on the Lower Mississippi River. The Associated Branch Pilots (Bar Pilots) report that no vessels entering Southwest Pass have reported any sheening or presence of oil on any vessel, but decontamination stations are standing by in the event a vessel needs cleaning prior to transiting the Lower Mississippi River. Stations are located near "The Jump" at Venice, LA and at Boothville, LA in the vicinity of Fort Jackson.
"Arriving vessels shall proceed to one of the two cleaning stations if there is a visible sheen emanating from the ship's hull. Vessel cleaning will be coordinated with the New Orleans Decon Group via VHF Channel 16, through the pilot directing the vessel's movement, once it has been determined that the vessel is actively sheening.
"These cleaning stations are only intended for those vessels which are sheening, and which therefore must be cleaned. Vessels wishing to be cleaned, who do not meet this criteria, should coordinate their own cleaning and seek reimbursement through the claims process, if they believe they were oiled by the current spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP Claims can be reached at 1-800-440-0858.
"For additional information, contact the following:
"Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Command Center: (504) 846-5923
Coast Guard Waterways Management: (504) 565-5103 or (504) 565-5108 or email to D08-PF-SECNEWORLEANS-WATERWAYS@uscg.mil.
Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Center Lower Mississippi River: VHF-FM Channel 12 or (504) 589-2780
"CAPTAIN P. F. COOK
Acting Captain of the Port New Orleans"