U.S. Coast Guard
Hundreds of gallons of oil have spilled into the Mississippi River after a barge accident early Friday morning near Alton.
The watery highway that carries much of the nation’s grain, coal, petroleum and other commodities is shut down until further notice.
Jefferson Barracks Bridge was closed for inspection early Sunday, but has since re-opened.
Right now, the water level is so low that the rocks threaten to halt barge traffic, leaving thousands of barge workers out of a job.
Industry officials fear low Mississippi River water levels in mid-December could force closure of the waterway.
Lindsey Burgess of Park Hills was hiking with her fiance when she slipped on rocks along the river bank at Niaraga Falls and fell into the water near the Niagara Whirlpool.
The Showboat Branson Belle has been docked since it ran aground Dec. 11, leaving more than 600 passengers safe but stranded overnight.
Officials say their goal is to boost the amount of products moved by barge on the Missouri River. About 334,000 tons of freight was transported on the river last year.