Barge crash cleanup extends to Galveston Bay two days after collision

Monday, May 13, 2019
Barge crash cleanup extends to Galveston Bay two days after collision
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Some of the spill is now showing up in the Galveston Bay. There's also been a temporary hold placed on oystering.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The U.S. Coast Guard completed its second day of containment Sunday after a barge carrying 25,000 barrels of Reformate began leaking the gas product due to a crash with a tanker.

Some of the spilled chemical is now showing up in the Galveston Bay shoreline, and the impact and containment area has been expanded.

Nearly 20,000 feet of boom were placed in the bay by containment crew contractors. Due to this plan, a temporary hold has been placed on oystering.

The Kirby Inland Marine expects cleanup to take about two more days.

Port officials said the crash happened around 3:30 p.m. Friday near Light 73 in the Bayport Channel.

AVOID THE COASTLINE: Officials warn of chemical odor found in 11 communities

The impact of the collision was so severe, it almost sliced the barge in half. According to the Coast Guard, the tanker, Genesis River, crashed into a tug pushing two barges. One capsized. The other was left with a huge gash in it.

The Harris County Office of Emergency Management added between 8,000 and 9,000 barrels spilled into the channel.

The Houston Ship Channel was partially closed to vessel traffic to help contain the spread, and officials were expecting the area to re-open sometime Saturday.

Air monitoring tests were completed overnight and results found there was no danger to the public found.

Officials say 26 teams of air monitors have taken over 1,300 samples. All samples have not exceeded actionable levels.

You can see their data here.

The city of Friendswood and League City say because of that, no protective action is recommended.

The water was of another concern. The floating gas product is toxic to water life.

The Texas Department of State Health Services warned people not to consume seafood that smells or tastes like gas or oil, regardless of where it was caught.

So far, the state has reported two dead seagulls, a dead raccoon, and an unspecified number of dead fish.

"It's unbelievable with all the radar and stuff, you would think this wouldn't happen," said John Harris, who was among a dozen or so residents who gathered at Golden Acres Park to try to see what happened.

Both barges were hauling 25,000 barrels of the gasoline blend stock Reformate, said a Port of Houston spokesperson. It immediately started spilling from the damaged barge and a sheen started inching closer to land.

"We know the air is coming this way. The flow is coming this way. We are definitely going to monitor everything," said Mayor Jeff Wagner of Pasadena.

Residents from surrounding communities complained of a gas odor.

"It smells really bad, like gasoline," Joann Acosta said.

In addition to a Coast Guard helicopter and boat, a Port Houston Fire Department fire boat and oil spill response were deployed. There were no injuries.

If you see vapors, sheen on the water or other physical concerns of the leak, call 281-757-3017. If you have health concerns, call 911.

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