New Orleans Coast Guard Sector stated that the Mississippi River is open to all traffic after two towing vessels collided.

At the time of the incident several barges broke loose near St. James Parish, two of which sunk containing hazardous materials.

Coast Guard officials reported that the vessels are American Heritage and David G. Schert, which collided early on Thursday afternoon.

The five barges broke loose shortly 2:30 p.m local time about a half-mile upstream of the Veterans Memorial Bridge. Deputies said the four-lane bridge was shut for about an hour and a half Thursday afternoon as a precaution.

After the collision one barge, loaded with caustic soda, overturned but was out of the navigable waterway on the right descending bank, while the others were safely recovered.

The overturned barge released an unknown amount of caustic soda solution into the waterway. In the worst case the released quantity would be 23,672 gallons.

According to the local authorities,  the bridge is fully reopened and the product released in the river will dissipate and neutralize soon after entering the water, posing minimal risk in the immediate vicinity of the barge.