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PITTSBURGH (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard wants to allow barges filled with fracking wastewater to ply the nation's rivers on their way toward disposal. Many environmentalists are horrified, but industry groups say barge transport has its advantages.
Critics of the plan say that if there was an accident, it could threaten the drinking water supply of millions of people. They also cite the uncertainty around what's in that toxic mix.
The Coast Guard is proposing to address that by requiring chemical testing of each barge load before shipment.
The wastewater now is usually disposed of by truck or rail. A government report notes that poses more risk for accidents than shipping by barge.
The industry says far greater amounts of toxic chemicals are already being moved by barge, including oil drilling waste.
The Mississippi River is closed near St. Louis again. This time, the problem is several barges that broke loose and collided with some docked barges.
The Coast Guard says it happened around midnight near the confluence with the Missouri River.
Early reports indicate that the accident may have caused a significant oil spill in the river.