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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

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Barge Causes Damage at Leon Theriot Locks

Barge Causes Damage at Leon Theriot Locks

In his General Manager’s report at Monday’s South Lafourche Levee District (SLLD) public meeting, Windell Curole discussed the recent damage done to the Leon Theriot Locks in Golden Meadow.

Last month on December 19th, the M/V Gracie Clair, owned by Triple S Marine, rammed the lock skirting, causing extensive damage to the pilings and timbers on the southeast side of the facility.  The barge stopped just before striking the lock itself.

“It tore out the whole skirting system, stopping traffic in the bayou for a short period of time,” said Curole.

Calling the event an “economic emergency”, SLLD immediately acquired an estimate of damage and a contractor to perform the repair work.  

A spud barge was brought in by SLLD to temporarily replace the skirting, protect the locks, and allow marine traffic to continue moving.

Curole thanked levee district workers and members of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission for helping out in the emergency.  Port Commission vessels directed traffic during the emergency.

“Traffic was stopped in the bayou, but only for a short time, thanks to everyone’s effort,” he said.

Cost of repair will be about $125,000, according to SLLD Operations Superintendent Jimmy Badeaux.

Materials were scheduled to be delivered on January 16th, and work will begin on January 20th to repair the damage, said Badeaux.

The company responsible for the damage will pay most of the cost, plus barge and cleanup charges.  But SLLD will pay a portion of the repair since it has decided to increase the length of the skirting.

Discussion followed on the impact of these types of emergency closures, especially during hurricane season.

Curole noted that incidents of damage have increased recently. 

“We have had three incidents since the beginning of last year--two in Golden Meadow, and one in Larose,” he said.

SLLD is looking into developing a procedure for boat captains to use when moving their vessels and tows through the locks.

One step in the procedure could be what Curole says good captains already do before entering the locks.

The experienced ones tend to slow down, let their barges lean against the caisson to line themselves up, and then head through after straightening up, he said.

In the December incident, Curole guessed that either because of heavy current, or wind, or inexperience of the boat operator, “the barge came in crossways”.