Tanker Collides With Barges In Houston Ship Channel

Response efforts continue in the Houston Ship Channel following a collision May 10 between the tanker Genesis River and a pair of Kirby Inland Marine barges pushed by mv. Voyager. The barges were loaded with gasoline reformate. The Houston Ship Channel initially was closed between Light 61, north of Redfish Island, and Light 75, just below the Bayport Channel.

The collision caused one of the barges to sink, while the other suffered a wedge-shaped hole. As salvage efforts proceeded over the following days, the Unified Command in charge of the response estimated that about 11,276 barrels of the gasoline blend were released into the waterway. At the time of the incident, each barge was carrying an estimated 25,000 barrels of the gasoline blend stock.

The Unified Command, including the U.S. Coast Guard, Kirby and the Texas General Land Office, removed both barges from the waterway May 15, with the damaged barge moved to Southwest Shipyard in Channelview, Texas, and the capsized barge moved to the Barbours Cut Turning Basin for lightering.

Also by May 15, the Houston Ship Channel had been reopened to commercial navigation without restrictions. As of midday May 15, the vessel queue was down to 41 vessels inbound and 24 outbound.

“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 for the response. “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.”