Barges queue at crippled Ohio lock

PROBLEMS at a lock system on the Ohio River stopped coal shipments last week, with the river transport system expected to be working at less than full capacity for about the next two weeks.

Staff Reporter

Both the primary and the auxiliary locks were reported to be down on the Ohio River’s Hannibal lock system, near Wheeling, West Virginia, which accommodates as much as 39 million tons of coal annually.

It was anticipated only the shorter auxiliary lock would be available yesterday, Dow Jones Energy Service quoted Army Corps spokeswoman Karen Auer as saying.

Usually both locks operate simultaneously, which means Hannibal will run at one-third capacity until the primary lock is fixed.

The issue appeared not to have generated major supply problems last week even though several utilities depend on Ohio River coal shipments to fuel power plants.

American Electric Power Co. (AEP), which burns 53 million tons a year at its plants in the eastern United States, moves some coal through Hannibal but is not yet experiencing inventory problems

Cinergy Corp also has not been affected, with only minimal shipping delays expected.

Twenty-nine tows of up to 15 barges are waiting for the lock to reopen.

The 15-barge tows have to be broken up to go through the 600-foot auxiliary lock but can go through the 1200-foot primary lock intact.

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