Fuel Oil Barge Partially Sinks After Collision in Houston Ship Channel, Spilling Oil

Mike Schuler
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March 22, 2014

A barge loaded with marine fuel oil sits partially submerged in the Houston Ship Channel, March 22, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Update (11:00 a.m. EST Sunday): Crews Cleanup Battle ‘Significant’ Oil Spill in Houston Ship Channel

Update (1:00 a.m. EST Sunday) : Four skimming vessels are on-scene to continue recovering spilled bunker fuel oil. An additional 20 response vessels are staged and are prepared to resume operations early on Sunday.

Officials with the unified command, who are overseeing the spill containment and recovery efforts, anticipate the ability to fully reactivate efforts beginning at first light Sunday.

Approximately 90,000 feet of boom have been staged along the Texas City dike for deployment in containment efforts.

Only one tank is believed to have been breached, which has a capacity for 168,000 gallons of oil.

Original: The U.S. Coast Guard and state and local partners are responding to a collision and what appears to be a fairly significant oil spill in the Houston Ship Channel on Saturday near Texas City.

At approximately 12:35 p.m., watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Houston/Galveston received a call from the captain of the 585-foot bulk carrier Summer Wind, reporting a collision between the Summer Wind and a barge, containing 924,000 gallons of fuel oil, towed by the MV Miss Susan.

The Houston Ship Channel was reported to be under a heavy blanket of fog early Saturday.

According to a Coast Guard statement, the MV Miss Susan was transiting from Texas City to Bolivar at the time of the collision. Kirby Inland Marine, owner of the MV Miss Susan and the barges, has activated its emergency response plan and is working in a unified response with the Coast Guard and the Texas General Land Office, which are on scene, the statement said.

Photos show the barge partially sunk, with a heavy sheen of oil on the water. The quantity of product released is unknown at this time, the Coast Guard said. The six crew members of the motor vessel Miss Susan are all accounted for and are in stable condition.

U.S. Coast Guard Photo
U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Marine traffic in the Houston Ship Channel from the Intracoastal Waterway to lighter buoy 32 has been temporarily suspended for the safety of the responders.

The incident comes just one week following a collision in the Houston Ship Channel between a cargo ship and a barge loaded with 840,000 gallons of #6 fuel oil, causing damage to both vessels but no pollution.

SEE: Coast Guard Investigating Collision on Houston Ship Channel

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