CHICAGO Flooding has
forced several lock closures along the upper Mississippi River,
stranding some barges carrying steel and steelmaking materials
below St. Louis, according to government and industry
"Locks 17, 18, 20, 21 and 22 are
all closed," Hilary Markin, spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers Rock Island District, told AMM June
5. "Basically, the water overtops the lock gates, so we pulled
up our machinery. The flooding is not as bad as in April (
amm.com, April 19) but it is still impacting us.
Crests are not expected to be as high, based on National
Weather Service reports."
Locks 17 and 18 are expected to
reopen June 9, followed by Locks 21 and 22 on June 10 and Lock
20 on June 11, Markin said. "Those predictions (are) based on
(weather) forecasting and the time it takes to clean and dry
our machinery and get (ready) for navigation."
St. Louis harbor was closed
along with Lock 24 at Clarksville, Mo., Lock 25 in Winfield,
Mo., and the Chain of Rocks Lock and Dam 27 in Granite City,
Mo., said Mike Petersen, spokesman for the Army Corps of
Engineers St. Louis District. "The current is moving fast
and there is a lot of driftwood, an endless supply of trees. It
looks like a forest flowing past, (making it) dangerous on the
The U.S. Coast Guard has closed
the river to navigation from mile markers 179 to 185. "No
traffic is moving (at St. Louis)," Petersen said.
The Army Corps of Engineers and
the U.S. Coast Guard had warned vessel operators of the
dangers, so most moved their ships out of St. Louis harbor in
advance of the closures. But Petersen said he expected some
traffic to queue up at Cairo, Ill., below St. Louis, waiting to
A spokeswoman for Beelman River
Terminals Inc. in Venice, Ill., confirmed that cargoes stalled
at Cairo include a barge of steel coils and a barge of slag
destined for a mill in Granite City. "We are completely shut
down on both sides (of the river)," she said June 5.
A spokeswoman for Memphis,
Tenn.-based Ingram Barge Co. said none of the companys
equipment is stuck anywhere. "We anticipated lock closures and
moved our cargo around due to the potential for hazardous river
conditions," she said. "A small number of deliveries may be
delayed a few days, but as locks reopen we will get back on
Barge, tow and tug operators
were well prepared for the latest deluge following Aprils
record flooding. "This is like a normal seasonal rainfall (by
comparison)," one source said.
There were hiccups, however.
"Im sitting in my office
with a scuba tank and flippers at the side of my desk,"
Grossman Iron & Steel Co. president Cap Grossman said. "The
flood gates are closed, and the Corps of Engineers have the
Port of St. Louis shut down."
In addition, "our lead to the
local switching rail line is shut down. I have got no shipments
out and no empties in, so there are some seriously dislocated
shipments here," he said.
Grossman said he hasnt yet
determined whether shipments will have to move by truck. "No
one is calling to tell me they need scrap in their furnace
after lunch, so I will bide my time letting Mother Nature
dictate what happens next," he said.