Category Archives: Incident Updates

UPDATE 7:  Unified Command removes barges involved in collision from Houston Ship Channel

HOUSTON – The Unified Command, consisting of U.S. Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office, Port of Houston Fire Department and Kirby Inland Marine, have successfully removed two barges involved in a collision from the Houston Ship Channel, Wednesday. 

The Captain of the Port of Houston-Galveston has opened the Houston Ship Channel without restrictions and vessel traffic has returned to normal operations.  As of 12 p.m., 41 vessels are awaiting inbound passage through the channel and 24 are awaiting outbound passage.

“The successful removal process is a credit to precise planning and risk assessment by the various agencies, barge owner and contract personnel who responded to this incident,” said Lt. Cmdr. Muhammad Ali Cochran, federal on-scene coordinator. “I am pleased that we have been able to safely remove these barges from the incident site and facilitate the return of normal commerce and activity in the ship channel.”

Kirby barge 30015T, the barge damaged from the collision, was transferred to the Southwest Shipyard at Channelview, while barge MMI 3041, the overturned barge, was taken to Barbours Cut Turning Basin where lightering operations will take place.  The movement of the barges was completed without incident in less than four hours and there have been no reports of release of product into the water.  Air monitoring will be ongoing at both locations. 

Skimming vessels continue to collect a small amount of product from sheen at the initial incident site. Crews will assess shorelines for any remaining presence of product.  Boom placed in some sensitive areas over the last several days will begin to be removed once those locations are determined to have sustained no impact from the spill.

Water quality testing teams are conducting sampling and are assessing the need for shoreline remediation. Initial water quality test results are expected to be available to response officials on Thursday.  

Involved with the response include the U.S. Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office, Port of Houston, Kirby Inland Marine, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Galveston County Health District, Texas Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as city and county officials who have been representing the interests of their communities, citizens and businesses. 

The incident occurred late Friday afternoon after the 755-foot tanker Genesis River and the tug Voyager collided at Lights 71-74 in the Houston Ship Channel. There were no crew injuries associated with the incident and the cause remains under investigation.

Key phone numbers:
Claims Hotline: 1-800-241-9010

Regional Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222

Impact to fish and wildlife: 979-215-8835
Air monitoring information: 281-757-3017 (available through May 15th)
Joint Information Center: 281-755-4670

Updates and resources are available at


2:00 p.m.
May 15, 2019

Update: Unified Command Begins Removal of Barges from Houston Ship Channel

HOUSTON – As of 8:20 a.m. today, the Unified Command responding to last week’s collision between a tanker and two barges near Bayport, Texas, has begun removal of both barges from the Houston Ship Channel.

The decision follows successful removal of the remaining gasoline blend product onboard the Kirby barge 30015T which was struck by the tanker Genesis River last Friday afternoon. Late Tuesday afternoon it was determined that the MNI 3041 barge, aground and submerged in the water as a result of the incident, could also be safely floated and moved to shore without removal of its product. The entire movement is expected to last approximately four hours.

Air and water quality monitoring will take place throughout transit and following the transit process. An adequate supply of containment boom will also be available on scene as a precautionary measure.  Existing containment and absorbent boom in place along sensitive shoreline areas will remain in place.

Skimmer boats and the Port of Houston fire boat will be on standby to provide rapid response if needed. All other navigation in the ship channel will be suspended during the complete transit process.

The damaged barge will be taken to the Southwest Shipyard at Channelview while the other barge will be towed to the Barbour’s Cut Turning Basin.  Both barges will undergo thorough decontamination to remove all residue from any of the gasoline blend stock from their hulls. The MNI 3041 undamaged barge will be lightered at the Barbour’s Cut.

Editor’s note: Both shipyards are private property and are not accessible without the permission of the property owners. 

8:45 a.m.
May 15, 2019

Unified Command Provides New Resources, Updated Guidance for Questions Regarding Health Concerns

Federal, state and local agencies responding to Friday’s vessel incident in Bayport, Texas have updated resources available to the public for persons who may be concerned regarding potential health impacts from the incident.

Information from the U.S. Center for Disease Control regarding the potential health impacts of the product spilled in Friday’s collision between the tug Voyager and the 755-foot tanker Genesis River may be accessed at:

The Texas Poison Control Center may be reached at 800-222-1222 and can also respond to citizen questions about exposure to chemicals.

Teams continue to aggressively assess air quality throughout communities near the incident site.  As of 12 p.m. Sunday, assessment teams have taken over 2700 readings with no findings above actionable levels.  Air monitoring reports remain available at  Reports of gasoline-like odors may be made to 281-757-3017.

Residents and others near the water are urged to avoid contact with water that may have been impacted by the gasoline blend stock product released from one of two barges struck by the tanker.  That guidance includes:

  • Avoiding all visible sheens on the water
  • Thoroughly washing any impacted skin with soap and water
  • Staying clear of containment boom on the water and against the shoreline


Unified Command Expands Marine Safety Zone

Unified Command has expanded the previously established navigation safety zone around Friday’s vessel incident and product spill near Bayport, Texas Sunday morning,

The expanded safety zone includes the area from the western shores of Lower Galveston Bay, starting at the south side of the Bayport Channel, then extending south to Eagle Point in San Leon, then east up to but not including the Houston Ship Channel, then extending north up to but not including the Bayport Ship Channel, then west to the shoreline.

Additionally, mariners are prohibited from exiting Clear Creek into the bay.

These temporary restrictions are in place to protect mariners and response crews operating in the area, and to prevent the inadvertent spread of product into other parts of the bay.


Water Sampling and Assessment Crews along waterfront areas

The Bayport Channel Collision Response Unified Command has contracted crews working in the local area conducting water sampling, shoreline assessments and, if needed, cleanup of any affected shoreline.

Waterfront property owners may see or be contacted by crews working along the Galveston Bay shoreline. These crews may request access to your property to do their work.

To verify their identity or if you have other questions, you may call the Unified Command at 281-757-3017. For additional information visit:


Unified Command Issues Health Guidance

Officials with the Unified Command responding to Friday’s spill of a gasoline blend stock product into the Houston Ship Channel have urged area residents and others near the water to avoid direct contact with the product due to potential skin and eye irritations or other more serious risks if subject to long term exposure.

The product was released following Friday afternoon’s collision between a tanker and a tug and barges transporting the product in the Houston Ship Channel near mile Lights 71-74.  The incident resulted in the release of approximately 9,000 barrels of Reformate into the water.

Since then, response teams under the direction of unified federal, state and local agencies in coordination with the vessel operator, have been working to contain the spill and implement a plan to safely remove the impacted barges from the ship channel.

The Unified Command urges that the public:

  • Avoid all visible sheens on the water
  • Thoroughly wash any impacted skin with soap and water
  • Stay clear of containment boom on the water
  • Consult a healthcare professional should specific and serious health concerns arise

Concerns regarding odors that may have resulted from the incident should be addressed to 281-757-3017.  For information regarding on-going air monitoring efforts, residents and others in the area may visit

Additionally, people should refrain from interfering with professional teams tasked with conducting air and water quality monitoring in the area, and those teams working to address any shoreline impact that may have occurred.