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