Tanker collision sends thousands of gallons of gasoline product leaking into bay

Katie Ramirez
May 13, 2019

A tugboat carrying two barges collided with a 755-foot oil tanker in the Houston Ship Channel on Friday, causing one of the barges to sink and spilling chemicals used to make gasoline.

The U.S. Coast Guard said on Saturday it's too early to estimate when the Houston Ship Channel can reopen after a collision that spilled about 9,000 barrels of a gasoline ingredient into the water. Reformate is toxic to marine life.

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

The United States Coast Guard said it will investigate the crash, adding that an investigation is already underway into what led up to the incident.

The Coast Guard says there are no known injuries, but the barge is leaking.

The Houston Chronicle reports the closure halted 29 inbound ships and 17 outbound.

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"Work is expected to continue throughout the day with an established priority of ensuring the protection of (Galveston) Bay from the additional release of product", the statement said.

"We know the air is coming this way".

"Some residents are reporting a strong smell of gasoline, and there is clearly an odor in the air in some areas of the county".

The U.S. Lope Guard confirmed the accident, which took discipline about 3:30 p.m. local time, in the Houston Ship Channel, advance Bayport, Texas.

Additionally, a safety zone has closed Clear Creek Channel from the entrance to Clear Lake and extending east to Light 66 on the Houston Ship Channel and north, up to but not including the Bayport Ship Channel.

Officials say the tested samples of Reformate don't pose a risk to local residents at this point and the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health is now monitoring nearby communities.

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