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Lower Mississippi River back open after oil spill

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JANET McCONNAUGHEY | February 24, 2014 04:08 PM EST | AP

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Coast Guard has reopened all of the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, though ships and other vessels must pass slowly near the site of a weekend oil spill.

About 31,500 gallons of light crude oil spilled into the river after a tank barge hit a towboat Saturday afternoon.

Petty Officer Matthew Schofield says the last 25-mile stretch downriver from the accident site was opened Monday afternoon. Forty miles from New Orleans toward Baton Rouge were opened earlier in the day.

The accident was at least the third in three years involving a towboat owned by Settoon Towing of Louisiana. Company attorney Alex Pucheu (PEE-shoo) did not immediately return calls and emails requesting comment.

Schofield says at least 30 vessels waited for the reopening.