Major Gas Product Spill on Houston Ship Channel After Tanker and Barges Collide

houston ship channel shipping accident
An aerial image shows a large gash in the side of the barge from the impact of the ship.

A unified command has been set up to respond to a major gasoline product spill in the Houston Ship after a tanker and tug pushing two barges collided near Bayport, Texas, Friday afternoon.

The unified command consists of the Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office and the barge owner, Kirby Inland Marine.

Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders received a report Friday that the 755-foot tanker Genesis River and the tug Voyager collided near Light 71-74.

The tug was transporting two barges, each loaded with an estimated 25,000 barrels of the gasoline blend stock Reformate, which is both flammable and toxic to human touch and smell.

Photos and video of the incident show a large hole in the middle of one of the barges made by the tanker’s bow. The other barge has reportedly capsized. 

The Coast Guard said that an unknown amount of product has been released from the damaged barge.

The tanker was outbound while the tug and barges were inbound when the accident occurred.

The Houston Ship Channel is closed from Light 61-75. A safety zone has closed Clear Creek Channel from the entrance to Clear Lake and extending east to Light 66 on the Houston Ship Channel and north up to, but not including, the Bayport Ship Channel.

Salvage teams are on scene assessing the damaged barges and additional salvage assets are reportedly in route.

So far about 1600-feet of boom has been deployed around the barges. Additional boom is being deployed and staged to protect sensitive areas along the bay.

There are no reported injuries.

Air monitoring is being conducted along the shoreline from Sylvan Beach to Kemah. So far no public advisories have been issued. A 24/7 air monitoring hotline has been established for the public to report strong gasoline odors at: 281-757-3017.

Reformate is a gasoline blending stock that is produced by the catalytic reforming refining process.