PORTLAND — Coast Guard officials say it appears that someone intentionally set a loaded grain barge adrift in the Columbia River.
The Oregonian reports that the barge was to be unloaded at a terminal that has locked out longshoremen.
The crew of a passing tug came upon the unlighted, 252-foot-long barge floating between Portland and Vancouver, Wash., and towed it back to the staging area where it had been moored.
Tidewater Barge Lines workers reported the barge missing late Friday night. According to a Coast Guard statement, a worker said rachets used to hold the barge in place appeared to have been intentionally loosened.
Coast Guard Capt. Bruce Jones said the loose barge could have endangered people or caused a collision.
Longshore union spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent said the union had nothing to do with it. A Tidewater spokeswoman did not return calls for comment Monday.