Ship Channel Reopens after Collision, Toxic Spill

Monday, May 13, 2019 @ 06:05 PM gHale

Barge is floating in the Houston Ship Channel with a gaping hole leaking a gasoline product called reformate.

The Houston Ship Channel reopened to traffic Sunday after a Friday collision involving a tanker, a tugboat and two barges dumped 9,000 barrels of a toxic chemical.

“We have received some reports of wildlife impacts,” said Craig Kartye of the Texas General Land Office’s oil spill prevention program. “Specifically two dead seagulls located near the source of the incident, one dead raccoon in the city of Kemah and some dead fish at one spot along the west shoreline of Galveston Bay.”

RELATED STORIES
Chemical Leak Forces Evac at TN Govt. Site
7 Critical, 30 Hurt after IL Toxic Chem Spill
Busted Flange Creates Sulfuric Acid Spill
Chemical Drains into IL Creek

Kartye said wildlife rehabilitation teams were responding to the reports.

Galveston Bay Foundation President Bob Stokes said the dead fish washed up on property owned by the foundation.

“There were a lot of really small juvenile fish, maybe a thousand and then probably about 200 blue crab,” Stokes said.

There were also a few dead adult fish including redfish, sheepshead and flounder.

The ship channel ended up closed Friday after a 755-foot tanker collided with a tugboat pushing two barges. Some 9,000 barrels of a gasoline blend released into the water from one of the barges.

One barge capsized and the other was damaged, leaking a gasoline product called reformate, a highly flammable chemical that is dangerous to marine life, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle. Officials said it could take at least two days to remove the hazardous materials from both incapacitated barges because their contents were still underwater.

Residents who live along the water were being advised not to fish or eat any shellfish. A smell of gasoline was also reported in the air over the weekend.

Jim Guidry, executive vice president of Kirby Inland Marine, which owns the barges, said nearly 400 people were working over the weekend to mitigate impacts and clean up the spill. They deployed 3,800 feet of containment booms around the barges to contain the spill and an additional 12,000 feet to protect sensitive areas around the bay.

Kartye said water samples all came back showing no contamination.

The Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.



Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.