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Tug boat, barge hit pipeline near New Orleans, causing fire

(Reuters) - A tug boat pushing an oil barge struck a pipeline in waters near New Orleans on Tuesday, setting off a fire and injuring the vessel's captain, and there were reports of oil in the water, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Tuesday.

The Coast Guard said that all crew members had been able to escape the 47-foot (14-meter) tug, although the captain was reported to have suffered second- to third-degree burns.

It added that the Coast Guard had responded by helicopter and boat to the incident near Bayou Perot, 30 miles south of New Orleans, and said there had been reports of "oil in the water" but gave no further details.

There were no further details about the size of the spill or the type of pipeline hit.

"We are aggressively responding with our state and local partners to mitigate the fire and prevent any potential impacts from oil that entered the water," Coast Guard Commander Russ Bowen of the New Orleans sector said in a statement.

The incident came roughly two weeks after a boat collided with an inactive oil and gas well near New Orleans and caused a small oil spill in inland water off Plaquemines Parish.

There has been a heightened awareness of spills of any magnitude since the Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 rig workers and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Oil company BP is currently on trial in a civil case in New Orleans over the spill.

Potential liabilities stretch into the tens of billions of dollars if the judge determines BP or the other defendants were grossly negligent. Oil came ashore from Texas to Florida, threatening livelihoods and state economies dependent on seafood and tourism.

(Reporting by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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