U.S. Coast Guard to Hold Public Hearing on Fatal Barge Explosion Off Texas

Coast Guard responds to the fire onboard the Bouchard No. 255 Tank Barge approximately three miles from Port Aransas, Texas, jetties Oct. 20, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo. 

The U.S. Coast Guard will conduct a formal public hearing to consider evidence related to a fatal fire that occurred last year aboard the Bouchard No. 255 Tank Barge while off the coast of Texas.

Two people were killed when the Bouchard Barge No. 255 crude oil barge caught fire and exploded on October 20, 2017.

Initial statements from the Coast Guard and the barge’s owner, Bouchard Transportation, said the fire started at around 4:30 a.m. local time while the barge was about 3 miles off the coast of Port Aransas, Texas.

At the time of the incident, the barge was being pushed by the Buster Bouchard, which had six crew members on board, all of whom were reported safe.

The barge was carrying 140,000 barrels of crude oil to a refinery when the incident occurred, U.S. Coast Guard officials said after the accident.

A Corpus Christi Fire Department vessel extinguishes a fire onboard a barge approximately three miles from the Port Aransas, Texas, jetties Oct. 20, 2017. 

The hearing will be held on July 16 through July 27, 2018, at Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston. The Coast Guard will release a detailed schedule for the hearing at the beginning of July.

The hearing will focus on the condition of the barge prior to and at the time of the casualty, Bouchard Transportation organizational structure and culture, the regulatory compliance record of the Bouchard No. 255 Tank Barge and the towing vessel Buster Bouchard, and the Coast Guard inspections program.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting its own investigation, will fully participate in the formal public hearing.

The Coast Guard has established an e-mail address for the public and interested parties to provide information, ask questions and make comments related to the ongoing investigation and scheduled hearing. This e-mail will be checked regularly and all correspondence will be acknowledged. The e-mail is: [email protected].