Part of Mississippi River reopens after barge spills oil

In this aerial photo, river traffic is halted along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Vacherie, La., due to a barge leaking oil in St. James Parish, La., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. The collision happened Saturday afternoon near Vacherie, 47 miles west of New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) AP

Last Updated Feb 24, 2014 3:02 PM EST

NEW ORLEANS --The Coast Guard says it is conditionally reopening 40 miles of the Mississippi River from New Orleans upriver, but 25 miles remain closed after oil spilled into the river.

Port spokesman Matt Gresham says each vessel's hull must be certified clean of oil before it can move along the reopened stretch.

About 31,500 gallons of light crude oil spilled from a tank barge that hit a towboat on Saturday. The Coast Guard says nobody was hurt and there have not been any reports of oiled wildlife.

 The Coast Guard says 29 vessels are waiting for the river to reopen.

The river had been closed from below the Port of New Orleans to Vacherie, nearly 50 miles west of New Orleans. It's now closed from Vacherie to near Hahnville, which is 30 miles from New Orleans.

Officials reported only a light sheen following the accident but river traffic was halted to avoid contaminating passing vessels and to prevent oil from spreading downriver.

No injuries were reported in Saturday afternoon's accident.

Public drinking water intakes on the river were closed as a precaution in nearby St. Charles Parish, officials said. "The water supply in St. Charles Parish remains safe," parish officials said in a news release Sunday afternoon.

The closure included the Port of New Orleans. However, both the Carnival Sunshine and the Norwegian Jewel cruise ships were able to leave the port Sunday to begin their scheduled cruises, said Petty Officer Craig Woerhle at the Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service in New Orleans.

The Coast Guard said there are currently no reports of oiled wildlife.

"Our highest priorities in this response are the safety of the public and responders, and protection of the environment," said Coast Guard Cmdr. Rebecca Ore.

CBS affiliate WWLTV reports the collision caused the Algiers ferry to be out of service on the first day that the new tolls would have been collected.

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