Houston Ship Channel reopens as spill response continues

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Response efforts continue following estimated spill of 9,000 gallons of gasoline blend component reformate

The Houston Ship Channel has been reopened following the closure that followed the May 10 collision between the 755-foot tanker Genesis River and barges pushed by the Kirby tug Voyager that resulted in a 9,000 gallon spill of gasoline blend stock (see earlier story).

According to an update issued by the unified command responding to the spill, the following restrictions were in place as of 3.00 p.m. yesterday: no meeting or overtaking at Light 73, wake and surge considerations from Light 66-76, vessels are to favor the red side of the channel as a safety precaution. As of 2 p.m., yesterday, there were no outbound vessels and 53 inbound vessels waiting to make safe passage through the channel.

A one nautical mile safety zone is in effect around the damaged barge.

Salvage teams have secured the barges in their current locations and continue to remove product from the damaged barge while crews prepare to conduct salvage operations on the capsized barge. Work is expected to continue throughout the day with an established priority of ensuring the protection of the bay from additional release of product.

Salvage assets include a crane barge, a lightering barge and multiple spud barges that are on scene to secure the damaged barges in place. Shoreline cleanup assessment teams have been deployed to areas where product may have reached the shore.

Six skimmers are on scene and have recovered more than 376 barrels of product-water mixture. More than 20,000-feet of boom has been deployed around the barges as well as surrounding sensitive shoreline areas.

Containment boom surrounds the damaged barge and skimming operations are in place to address possible release while product is transferred from the barge. There is active cleaning underway along Bay Shoreline due to reports of sheen.

Response teams continue to conduct air monitoring throughout the area with results posted at www.bayport-response.com. As of 3 p.m. Monday, 4,735 air quality assessments had been taken in the community and analyzed with no results showing above actionable levels. Water quality testing teams continued to conduct sampling and assess the need for shoreline remediation.

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