Loose storm barges in New Orleans from one company

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A single scrap metal company is being blamed for 70 barges and ships that floated loose in a major New Orleans canal during Hurrican Gustav.

Some of the vessels crashed into an interior flood wall, a bridge and warehouses.

The Coast Guard is investigating whether the company followed plans to secure its vessels before Hurrican Gustav. The company, Southern Scrap, is now barred from keeping any vessels in the canal until hurricane season ends.

The company's president says Southern Scrap followed a federal mooring plan, but that Hurricane Gustav's strong winds snapped the vessels' anchor chains anyway.

The canal where the vessels came loose last week is the same one where a flood wall breach during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused much of the flooding that devastated New Orleans.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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