Houston Ship Channel closed after tanker collides with barges

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Local media coverage showed severity of damage to barge

The Houston Ship Channel remained closed this morning between between Bayport and Redfish Island, halting 29 inbound and 17 outbound ships. The closure follows a collision around 3.30 p.m. yesterday between the 755-foot K-Line Energy LPG tanker Genesis River and two barges pushed by the Kirby Inland Marine tug Voyager.

According to media reports, the impact was so severe that one barge was almost sliced in half and the other capsized. The LPG tanker incurred bow damage. The barges were carrying the gasoline blend component reformate.

An estimated 25,000 barrels of gasoline blend stock were loaded on each barge. An unknown amount of product has been released from the damaged barge.

This morning, the Houston Chronicle reported Jim Guidry, executive vice president of Kirby Corporation, owner of the barges, as telling a news conference that the tanker’s hull punctured two of the barge’s four cargo tanks.

“The bow of the ship went through the port tank into the starboard tank, so here was no way to secure the source of the leak,” Guidry said. “Those two tanks were open to the sea.”

Crews have deployed 1,600 feet of boom around the barges to contain the spill.  Responders are deploying additional boom to protect sensitive areas around the bay,  the Coast Guard said.

Reformate is highly flammable and highly toxic to marine life. Local media report area residents as reporting smells of petroleum coming from the Bay.

A unified command (USCG, Texas General Land Office, Kirby Corporation) reports that around the clock air quality monitoring is being carried out in the communities west of the bay.

You can access the latest updates from the unified command HERE

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