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 www.bayport-response.com

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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

News Release # 6

A Unified Command, consisting of U.S. Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office, Port of Houston Fire Department and Kirby Inland Marine, continues to respond Tuesday to a collision between the 755-foot tanker Genesis River and the tug Voyager at Lights 71-74 in the Houston Ship Channel near Bayport, Texas.

Salvage teams have successfully flushed, decontaminated and transferred all removable product from the damaged barge to prepare for transit from the Houston Ship Channel to a local shipyard. Crews are continuing salvage operations on the capsized barge.

Upon the completion of product removal operations, the estimated amount of gas blend product released from the damaged barge is approximately 11,276 barrels. Due to the maximum potential of 25,000 barrels, the Unified Command worked quickly to secure the barges in their location and deploy containment boom and skimmers with an established priority of the protection of the bay from additional release of product.

Seven skimmers are on scene and have recovered more than 3,825 barrels of product-water mixture. Approximately 20,000-feet of absorbent and containment boom has been deployed around the barges as well as surrounding sensitive shoreline areas.

There is active cleaning underway along the Galveston Bay shoreline. Shoreline cleanup assessment teams have been deployed to areas where product may have reached the shore. As of 1 p.m., 0.125 miles of shoreline have been impacted.

Water quality testing teams continue to conduct sampling and assess the need for shoreline remediation. The Unified Command is working closely with public health officials to ensure air and water sampling results are at safe levels to the public.

Response teams continue to conduct air monitoring throughout the area with results posted at www.bayport-response.com. As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, 5,079 air quality assessments have been taken in the community and analyzed with no results showing above actionable levels.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and Galveston County Health District report that environmental air sampling data from the community continue to be below levels of health concerns. Both agencies will continue to monitor air quality to ensure public safety.

The Houston Ship Channel continues to remain open with the following restrictions in place: no meeting or overtaking at Light 73, wake and surge considerations from Lights 66-76, vessels are to favor the red side of the channel as a safety precaution. As of 12 p.m., there were 12 outbound vessels and 44 inbound vessels waiting to make safe passage through the channel. For recent updates to the vessel traffic queue visit www.bayport-response.com.

In the last 24 hours, 335 towing vessels and 61 ships have transited across Vessel Traffic Services area of operation while 144 towing vessels and 30 ships have transited through the impacted area.

The Captain of the Port of Houston-Galveston has now opened traffic to recreational boaters. A one nautical mile safety zone is in effect around the damaged barge. Marine Safety Information Bulletins can be viewed at https://homeport.uscg.mil/port-directory/houston-galveston.

Wildlife impacts include numerous fish and invertebrates, three birds found deceased on the barge and one mammal. If the public encounters impacted wildlife, they should not attempt a rescue or recovery. Untrained personnel can inflict serious injury to the animal or may be injured themselves. Instead, call and report impacted wildlife to 979-215-8835.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has issued a seafood warning concerning the consumption of fish and seafood from portions of Galveston and Trinity Bays which can be found at: https://www.dshs.texas.gov/news/updates.shtm#bayport.

“As a member of the Unified Command, the Texas General Land Office working with other federal, state and local agencies has made significant progress towards the recovery and restoration of the waterways,” said Jeffrey Davis, state on-scene coordinator. “Our main priority continues to be the health and safety of the local community and first responders.”

The Unified Command has been holding daily phone conferences with local stakeholders to address concerns and pass information important to the local communities.

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
Claims Website: https://bayportincident.crawco.com
Regional Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222
Impact to fish and wildlife: 979-215-8835
Air monitoring information: 281-757-3017
Joint Information Center: 281-755-4670

Updates and resources are available at www.bayport-response.com

 

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Crews prepare for cold-tap drilling operations to offload product

Crews prepare for cold-tap drilling operations to offload product and enable removal of barge from the Houston Ship Channel, May 13, 2019. Barge MMI 3041 capsized while in transit with Barge Kirby 30015T on May 10, 2019 after the tanker Genesis River collided in the Ship Channel. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Auxiliarist Rusty Pumphrey)