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Crews Remove Barges Involved In Spill From Houston Ship Channel

Water quality testing teams are conducting sampling and initial results are expected to be available on Thursday.

The two barges involved in a collision were removed from the Houston Ship Channel on May 15, 2019.

Posted on Wednesday, May 15, at 2:59 p.m.

The Unified Command responding to a spill of gasoline blend product that occurred last Friday in the Houston Ship Channel said on Wednesday afternoon it has successfully removed the two barges involved in the incident from the collision site.

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Texas General Land Office, Port of Houston Fire Department and the company Kirby Inland Marine form the unified command that’s responding to the incident.

The spill happened after a 755-foot tanker crashed into a tugboat that was pushing two barges. The tanker struck one of the barges and the other one capsized.

The barges were taken to shipyards. The one that was damaged in the collision was transported to the Southwest Shipyard at Channelview. The other barge was taken to the Barbours Cut Turning Basin. There were no reports of release of product into the water as the barges were removed from the collision site.

Cleanup operations continued and skimming vessels collected a small amount of product from sheen at the initial incident site. Additionally, crews will assess shorelines for any remaining presence of product.

The boom that was deployed in some sensitive areas over the last several days will begin to be removed when crews determine those locations have sustained no impact from the spill.

Water quality testing teams are conducting sampling and initial water quality test results are expected to be available on Thursday.

The Houston Ship Channel is now operating without restrictions.

Posted on Tuesday, May 14, at 6:02 p.m.

The Unified Command responding to a spill of gasoline blend product that occurred last Friday said on Tuesday afternoon in the Houston Ship Channel that cleanup crews have successfully flushed, decontaminated and transferred all removable product from the damaged barge and they are continuing salvage operations on the capsized barge.

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Texas General Land Office, Port of Houston Fire Department and the company Kirby Inland Marine form the unified command that’s responding to the incident.

The spill happened after a 755-foot tanker crashed into a tugboat that was pushing two barges. The tanker struck one of the barges and the other one capsized.

The gas blend product that spilled is reformate and authorities estimate the spilled amount is approximately 11,276 barrels. Initial reports said it was a 9,000-barrell spill.

The cleanup and recovery process includes the deployment of approximately 20,000 feet of containment boom, a temporary floating barrier and skimmers. Seven skimmers are on scene and have recovered more than 3,825 barrels of product-water mixture. 

Additionally, air and water quality tests are underway. As of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, 5,079 air quality assessments had been taken and analyzed with no results showing above actionable levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Galveston County Health District report that environmental air sampling data from the community continue to be below levels of health concerns. 

The Texas Department of State Health Services has issued a seafood warning concerning the consumption of fish and seafood from portions of Galveston and Trinity Bays. More information on the seafood warning is posted on this website.

The spill has also impacted wildlife, with three birds and a mammal having been found deceased on the damaged barge and numerous fish and invertebrates also having been found dead.

Posted on Monday, May 13, at 4:40 p.m.

Cleanup crews continue responding to a collision in the Houston Ship Channel that spilled approximately 9,000 barrels of gasoline blend stock last Friday.

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Texas General Land Office, Port of Houston Fire Department and the company Kirby Inland Marine form the unified command that’s responding to the incident.

The spill happened after a 755-foot tanker crashed into a tugboat that was pushing two barges. The tanker struck one of the barges and the other one capsized and remains aground just outside the channel.

Salvage teams have secured the two barges in their current locations and continue to remove product from the damaged barge. Crews are preparing to perform salvage operations on the capsized barge.

The flammable material that spilled is called reformate. Six skimmers are on the scene and have recovered more than 376 barrels of product-water mixture. In addition, responders have deployed more than 20,000 feet of boom, a temporary floating barrier, to control the spill.

As of 3 p.m. on Monday, local officials said 4,735 air quality assessments had been taken in the community and analyzed with no results showing actionable levels. Response teams were also conducting water quality tests.

The Houston Ship Channel is open but with some restrictions due to the incident.

Posted on Monday, May 10, at 10:38 a.m.

Officials say a 9,000-barrel gasoline blend stock spill that happened last Friday in the Houston Ship Channel isn’t a major health concern, but they have suspended oyster harvesting downstream until further notice and are investigating the accident that led to the spill.

The flammable material that spilled is called reformate and a spokesperson for Port Houston said it’s a colorless, flammable liquid that’s toxic to fish.

The spill happened after a 755-foot tanker crashed into a tugboat that was pushing two barges. One barge capsized and cleanup crews will have to cut through the steel bottom of the ship to pump out the remaining product. They’re also using boom, a temporary floating barrier, to control the spill.

The U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board still aren’t sure what caused the accident, which has disrupted traffic on the channel near Bayport.

Officials say so far two seagulls, one raccoon and “some fish” are believed to have died due to the spill. Fishermen are also being encouraged not to eat fish caught in certain parts of Galveston Bay.

Residents in the area have complained of a gasoline odor. The National Weather Service has warned that people living nearby may be able to smell gasoline fumes.

Speaking on behalf of the barge company, Jim Guidry said at a news conference they are monitoring air quality 24 hours a day. “We’ve not seen any levels that cause us concern for people’s health,” Guidry said. On Sunday, authorities said 2,700 air samples were tested and none have exceeded levels to cause concern.

The Galveston Bay Foundation is collecting water samples.

The cause of the collision is being investigated.

Persons wishing to pursue a claim in the response to the incident can call 1-800-241-9010.

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