Commercial boat traffic was halted all day Friday after a loaded coal barge was intentionally run into the bank of the Monongahela River at mile 59.6 below Brownsville, Fayette County to prevent the barge from sinking, according to the U.S. Coast Guard..
The towboat Francis J. Blank, operated by Towline River Service in Elizabeth, was pushing a loaded, three-barge tow down river when the lead barge hit bottom and began taking on water, according to the Coast Guard account of events. The towboat pushed the barges to shore at about 6:45 a.m., and the river was closed to commercial traffic in the area at 7:24 a.m.
No coal was spilled into the river but the coal transfer operations closed the river to commercial traffic all day while a crane barge unloaded the lead barge into a hopper barge that was brought to the scene. The Coast Guard expected the river would reopen to commercial traffic by 8 p.m.