Tanker collision leaves thousands of gallons of gas product leaking into bay

Pablo Tucker
May 13, 2019

BAYPORT, Texas-Multiple vessels collided in the Houston Ship Channel on the afternoon of May 10, spilling an unknown volume of a toxic gasoline product and forcing the partial closure of the commercial waterway.

The spill came after a collision in the channel Friday between a 755-foot oil tanker and a tug pushing two barges.

There are no reported injuries at this time.

The barges were loaded with the gasoline blending component Reformate, which is leaking into the water after the incident Friday near Bayport, Texas, officials said. The gas product is colorless, flammable and toxic to touch, inhale or ingest.

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

Officials did not say how much of the reformate leaked into the water but assured local residents that it poses no danger to them. The barges, each carrying 25,000 barrels of a gasoline-refining product called reformate, were traveling the inbound lane.

"We know the air is coming this form".

"Our objective now is to get the vessels secured", said Capt. Kevin Oditt, commander of Coast Guard Sector Galveston.

As of 8 p.m. CT, the shipping channel was closed from Light 61 to Light 75, KPRC reported.

Salvage teams were at the site on Saturday, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.

The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, the Environmental Protection Agency and a Port of Houston Fire Boat are conducting around-the-clock air monitoring in the communities west of the bay and in locations reported through the Air Monitoring hotline.

There were 44 vessels waiting lined up to enter the ship channel and 37 vessels waiting to leave on Sunday morning, according to the Houston Pilots association.

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