A tug pushing two barges collided with a 755-foot oil tanker in the Houston Ship Channel, capsizing one barge, damaging the other one and leaking thousands of barrels of gasoline blending stock, the US Coast Guard said.
The barges were loaded with the gasoline blending component Reformate, which is leaking into the water after the incident Friday near Bayport, Texas, officials said.
About 9,000 barrels of Reformate have spilled into the channel, according to incident commander Jim Guidry with Kirby Inland Marine.
Tested samples are under the “action level,” meaning they don’t pose a risk at this point, officials said.
Coast Guard Capt. Kevin Oditt said the agency is working to reopen the channel. The incident is under investigation.
“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,” an earlier Coast Guard statement said.
“Air monitoring is being conducted along the shoreline. … (T)he first priority of the unified command is public safety,” it said. “If any readings above actionable levels are detected, advisories will be provided to local emergency operations centers.”
The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health is monitoring nearby communities.