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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Canal Barge Responds to Hurricane Threat

In the August 9, 2010, issue of the Waterways Journal, Merritt Lane, President and CEO of Canal Barge Company, offered insight into the challenges of responding to a hurricane threat for inland marine operators in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Below are excerpts of the article, courtesy of the Waterways Journal.

Bonnie Offered Test of Hurricane Plans
By Capt. Richard Eberhardt

High altitude winds sheared off the top of Tropical Storm Bonnie, reducing it to a relatively minor weather event that mostly affected the offshore vessels working with the Deepwater Horizon cleanup and delayed capping of the blown out BP well for about a week, as drill ships had to disconnect pipes to the Gulf of Mexico floor.
“We never made it to Condition Zulu,” said Capt. Ed Stanton, commander of Sector New Orleans. Port operations are shut down at Condition Zulu, which is declared when hurricane-force winds are expected within 12 hours. The sector did get to Condition Yankee, in which gale-force winds were expected within 24 hours….
Canal Barge was [a] company that began to gear up for the storm, and then used it as a training exercise as it did not develop into a full-blown hurricane.
Merritt Lane, Canal Barge president and chief executive officer, said Bonnie “did give Canal Barge an opportunity to exercise our storm preparedness and response plan. Canal Barge Company is confident in our ability to respond appropriately during a hurricane threat, and we started tracking the storm while it was still in the Atlantic Ocean.”
Lane said Canal Barge “implemented a measured response to make sure we were prepared for a major storm, and we stood down once it became clear that Bonnie would not be a threat.”
With the upgrade of the Industrial Canal Lock, flood protection work on the Intracoastal Waterway, and the additional equipment being used in response and cleanup of the BP oil spill, Lane said he was expecting congestion in the New Orleans area.
“While we did encounter 24-plus hour delays at the Industrial Canal (IHNC Lock) it was not significantly longer than wait times during construction,” Lane added. “We look forward to the completion of the Industrial Canal lock to help move traffic more quickly through the New Orleans area, both in response to storm threats as well as during normal times.”
Canal Barge did have barges on charter to others along the Gulf Coast in the track of the storm, with an initial plan to move all this equipment northward toward Larose on the GIWW, “but when it became clear that the storm would not be a severe event, this equipment was moved north of Grand Isle to stand by and wait for the storm to pass,” Lane said.

Courtesy of the Waterways Journal