Preliminary monitoring of the Houston Ship Channel has shown no actionable levels of chemicals in the air after two barges collided with a tanker in the Houston Ship Channel on Friday afternoon, League City officials said.

At 6:50 p.m., there was no shelter in place issued, but residents of League City and other upper county communities were being advised to stay tuned to their local city’s social media in case any precautionary measures are needed, police department spokesman Kelly Williamson said.

Officials will continue to monitor the air, League City officials said.

The U.S. Coast Guard said a 755-foot tanker collided with a tugboat pushing two barges Friday afternoon, sinking one of the barges and damaging another. No injuries were reported.

The Coast Guard says each barge was carrying an estimated 25,000 barrels of reformate and that an unknown volume of the gasoline product spilled.

Port Houston spokeswoman Lisa Ashley says reformate is colorless, flammable and toxic to aquatic life.

Fire and oil spill response boats arrived at the site of the collision, and air monitoring was being conducted along the shoreline.

The two barges were on the inbound channel and the tanker was on the outbound channel when they collided around 3:30 p.m., forcing the ship channel to close, television station KHOU reported.

One barge sank, while the other had a hole in it, the station reported.

The barges collided near Morgan’s Point and one contained reformate, a chemical used to make gasoline, according to the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management.

The chemical can be flammable and toxic when inhaled, ingested or come in contact with skin, League City officials said.

Residents in northern Galveston County reported smells of gasoline Friday evening.

While preliminary readings show no actionable levels, people living in Kemah, Clear Lake Shores, Bacliff, League City and San Leon should stay inside if the smell of gasoline concerns them or if they have preexisting health conditions, League City officials said.

Crews are working to unload the product, KHOU reported.

(5) comments

Bill Cochrane

A TV station in Houston showed a full size ship with damage, not another barge?

Jim Forsythe

Bill, the station I watch had it as 2 barges and a tanker. One barge sank. Better info will come out.

Bill Cochrane

Jim, yes the story mentioned a tanker but the headline says Two Barges collide. Should have read A ship and barges collide. Shoulda Coulda Woulda.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Those in the maritime industry have endured the media reporting (sometimes breathless) of inaccurate information about ship-related incidents due to lack of reporter knowledge of the subject for as long as I can remember. 30 years on, we still see wildly inaccurate statements about the Exxon Valdez grounding repeated by news sources whenever the subject comes up. Makes one wonder about the accuracy of reporting done on all the other subjects that one is not familiar with, doesn't it?

Gary Miller

Reporter should have copied a better TV report. Actually reporting from the site could have improved the story.

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