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May 9, 2012 7:03 AM by AP

Coast Guard steps up inspections of towboats

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A new round of inspections of towboats and tugs is starting in July as part of a nationwide push by the Coast Guard to improve the safety of the nation's rivers and harbors.

Since a 2008 collision and oil spill near New Orleans involving an improperly licensed towboat captain, the Coast Guard has begun inspecting work boats across the nation.

So far, the Coast Guard says it has inspected 2,887 towing vessels that volunteered to be inspected in the 26 states that fall under the Coast Guard's Eighth District, which is headquartered in New Orleans.

Starting on July 1, the agency says it will begin inspecting the rest of the towing fleet in the district.

Michael White, a Coast Guard towing vessel specialist, says the goal is 100 percent participation.

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