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UPDATE April 23 at 9:19 p.m.:  The empty barge that broke loose from the Olin Corp.'s dock in Charleston, Tenn., on Saturday night was recaptured safely, the company said in a statement Sunday.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol shut down the Interstate 75 bridges over the Hiwassee River for a couple of hours Saturday night in case the drifting barge hit and damaged the structure.

Spokeswoman Carol Clark said Sunday that Olin workers recaptured the barge, which was owned by another company and stored at Olin's dock.

"Today our towing company moved the barge back to our dock area. At this point, we do not believe there was any damage; however, we are continuing additional inspections. The barge became loose during the strong storms, and we are conducting a thorough investigation in cooperation with local and state authorities to prevent this from happening again," Clark said via email.

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UPDATE : Sen. Mike Bell confirmed via text at 11:03 p.m. the barge has been secured and the interstate has reopened in both directions. 

The Olin Corp. issued a statement around 11:15 p.m.:

"This evening during a heavy storm, an empty barge that is owned by another company but stored at Olin's dock got loose on the Hiwassee River in Charleston. We continue to work with state and local authorities on this situation."

The corporations spokesperson did not immediately confirm whether the barge had been secured.

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Original Article: Drivers on Interstate 75 near Calhoun, Tenn., in McMinn County are being diverted away from the Hiwassee River bridge because a barge has broken loose and is adrift, said Lt. John Harmon of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Harmon said TDOT is on the way to help with traffic control. Northbound traffic is being diverted at mile marker 36 and southbound at mile marker 33, he said.

Both the north and southbound lanes of Interstate 75 are shut down.

State Sen. Mike Bell, who lives in McMinn County, posted on Facebook that the barge broke loose from Olin Chlor Alkali Products in Charleston and that the Coast Guard is on the way in hopes of keeping the barge from hitting the I-75 bridge.

He said traffic is being detoured to U.S. Highway 11.

The situation is tentatively estimated to be cleared by 11 p.m., according to TDOT's SmartWay Traffic map.

 

 

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