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Shutdown affects Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard

Posted at 6:37 PM, Jan 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-08 19:37:06-05

TULSA, OK (KJRH) — When you think about shipping in Oklahoma, you might not immediately think about the Arkansas River. But it’s important all 18 lock and dams are maintained around the clock.

The Arkansas River is home to the Tulsa Port of Catoosa; it's a shipyard that's vital to Oklahoma manufacturers and farmers. Just one barge in the shipyard can carry 60 semi loads’ worth of shipment. That means cheaper imports, and lower prices at the store.

"All of this means we can afford the things we need to afford," said Shelia Shook. She works with workforce and education at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa. "It means shipping cost is lower. There’s a small margin where farmers can make money with transportation."

But during the government shutdown the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard can only do what is absolutely necessary on the Arkansas River. For the Army Corps of Engineers, they have to focus on manning locks and dams.

"If nobody was manning or maintaining this, all river navigation would cease," said Daniel Grisham, an engineer at Tulsa Port of Catoosa.

The U.S. Coast Guard steps in when it comes to patrolling those waters and keeping everyone safe. But because they’re funded by the Department of Homeland Security, they also have to cut back.

"Some of the regular patrols may not happen, or training that is provided to crew members may not happen," said U.S. Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Chad Saylor. "Some recreational boating boardings may not take place; this is where we routinely check recreational boaters to make sure they have the proper life-saving equipment on board."

The Coast Guard will continue emergency operations. That includes search and rescue, environmental emergencies, and national security.

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