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Shipping Woes Predicted South Of St. Louis

Brad Choat
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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Major General John Peabody speaks at a Mississippi River news conference in St. Louis on November 16, 2012 (KMOX/Brad Choat)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Major General John Peabody speaks at a Mississippi River news conference in St. Louis on November 16, 2012 (KMOX/Brad Choat)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Major General John Peabody says the Corps is doing its best to work with the Coast Guard and the shipping industry to plan for potentially record-low levels on the Mississippi River between Saint Louis and southern Illinois.

“To a certain degree, we’re trying to play Merlin and look in a crystal ball to try and figure out what’s going on. But, the crystal ball is pretty cloudy,” Peabody said at a news conference Friday in St. Louis.

Peabody said the Corps will not postpone its cutback of water flowing from the Missouri River into the Mississippi next week, unless the White House intervenes.

Craig Philip of Ingram Barge Company fears there could be a river shutdown south of Saint Louis in mid-December, if all means of propping up river levels aren’t taken, “We usually have one tow leaving in each direction every day—just our company— and to carry that load each day if the river stops, would require 1,000 trucks.”

The potential shutdown also has George Foster of St. Louis based barge repair service J.B. Marine worried, “Closure of the Mississippi next month would mean about 300 million bushels of agricultural products worth $2.3 billion would be delayed in reaching destinations.”

Foster says coal, petroleum, and other products would be affected, as well.

The governors of Missouri and Illinois, as well as some U.S. Senators, are asking the White House to postpone next week’s cutback of water flowing from the Missouri River into the Mississippi.

On a related matter, the Army Corps of Engineers is concerned about jagged rock in the river at southern Illinois, and is trying to speed up the timetable for blasting that rock while the river is low.

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