Crews Sunday continued their work on two barges involved in a collision late Friday, unloading cargo and partially reopening the Houston Ship Channel to maritime traffic, officials announced.

About 3:30 p.m. Friday, a 755-foot tanker ship collided with a tugboat pushing two barges near Baytown, causing one barge to capsize and piercing another, causing it to begin leaking a feedstock blend called Reformate similar to automobile gasoline.

Each of the barges was fully loaded with about 25,000 barrels of the product, and about 9,000 barrels had leaked into the ship channel by Saturday.

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

Officials also closed the Houston Ship Channel because of the collision, but by late Sunday it reopened to some traffic. About 47 outbound vessels and 48 inbound vessels are still waiting to travel through the channel, but one-way ship traffic and two-way barge traffic resumed by Sunday afternoon, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials.

Salvage crews also secured the two barges and worked Sunday to remove cargo, officials said. Once all the cargo is removed, the barges can then be moved.

More than 334 personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office and barge owner Kirby Inland Marine, among others, have responded to the unified command post and crews have deployed about 20,550 feet of containment and absorbent boom, officials said.

Officials have also expanded the navigation safety zone around the barges to include the area from the western shores of lower Galveston Bay, extending south to San Leon and east up to but not including the Houston Ship Channel and then north up to but not including the Bayport Ship Channel, officials said. Boaters are prohibited from leaving Clear Creek into the bay, officials said.

People wanting to report fish or wildlife that might have been affected should call 979-215-8835, officials said.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com


(8) comments

Bill Cochrane

The ship did not "collide with a tugboat" it collided with a barge being pushed by a tugboat. And, Whatever happened to the basic reporting questions? Who?, What?, When?, Why?, Where? If this were a major car accident I’m sure more details would be given. Who? – was driving the ship? If there was a Pilot on board, who was it. Who was at fault? Who owns the ship? What? – What was the ship loaded with? What were the weather conditions? When – Okay, 1 out of five. Why? – Again, why did this happen? Who was driving?, weather?, Pilot? Where? – Okay, ship channel, but was it at an intersection?

Paul Harrington

Totally agree Bill

Miceal O'Laochdha

Bill, you are correct. the LPG tanker Genesis River had collision with the barges, not the push boat Voyager. The push boat and barges are owned by Kirby. The Genesis River is 230 meters LOA by 37 meters Beam. She had come from Nagoya Bay (Japan) before arriving in Houston, via the Panama Canal. She was outbound at the time of collision for the Suez Canal and points beyond. John can at least be congratulated for using the industry standard: "barrels" to report the quantity of product (it is a gasoline octane booster additive) instead of the more sensational "gallons" that media (and USCG) generally prefer to use in order to make the spill appear worse. There are 42 gallons to the barrel. Here is the information on the LPG tanker:

"The "Genesis River" was in collision with barges pushed by the tug "Voyager" on the Houston Ship Channel at Light 71-74, on May 10, 2019, at 3.15 p.m. while proceeding down the channel, en route from Houston to Port Said. One barge capsized, another one was badly damaged and leaking its’ cargo of reformate, a refined product that is blended with gasoline to boost octane. Each barge carried about 25,000 barrels of reformate. 25,000 barrels were feared to have leaked. The Port Houston Fire Department fireboat and oil spill response forces as well as salvage personnel responded. A unified command, consisting of the Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office and Kirby Inland Marine, was established. The tanker, which suffered bow damages, was taken to Shady Oaks harbor, just abeam of the collision site, and berthed. On May 12 at 6.15 p.m. it berthed at the Bayport Container Terminal in Houston."

Steve Fouga

I had been waiting for your report, Miceal. Thanks for posting.

Doug Sivyer

Lovely, more toxic chemical waste in our waterways. See link for the Dangers of Reformate. https://www.valero.com/en-us/Documents/EU_SDS/2019%20eSDS%20Reformate-EU%20English.pdf

Bill Cochrane

Miceal, do you know is the ship had a Pilot aboard?

Miceal O'Laochdha

Bill, I cannot say that with certainty but, as she was outbound in pilot waters I cannot imagine any circumstances where she would not have had a Houston Pilot onboard. Of course, having a Pilot does not relieve the Master of his ultimate responsibility for his vessel. Only exceptions to that are the Panama and Suez Canals. It is the obligation of the Master to take the Con from the Pilot if he believes the Pilot's commands are putting the vessel in jeopardy. Nonetheless, it is very unusual (for obvious reasons) to take that step. I have witnessed that done twice, once in San Francisco and once in Arzew, Algeria.

Doug Sivyer

Lovely, more toxic waste in our waterways. Follow link to read about the dangers of this chemical. https://www.valero.com/en-us/Documents/EU_SDS/2019%20eSDS%20Reformate-EU%20English.pdf

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