May 15, 2019 8:57 AM
Unified Command Begins Removal of Barges from Houston Ship Channel
As of 8:20 a.m. today, the Unified Command responding to last week’s collision between a tanker and two barges near Bayport, Texas, has begun removal of both barges from the Houston Ship Channel.
The decision follows successful removal of the remaining gasoline blend product onboard the Kirby barge 30015T which was struck by the tanker Genesis River last Friday afternoon. Late Tuesday afternoon it was determined that the MNI 3041 barge, aground and submerged in the water as a result of the incident, could also be safely floated and moved to shore without removal of its product. The entire movement is expected to last approximately four hours.
Air and water quality monitoring will take place throughout transit and following the transit process. An adequate supply of containment boom will also be available on scene as a precautionary measure. Existing containment and absorbent boom in place along sensitive shoreline areas will remain in place.
Skimmer boats and the Port of Houston fire boat will be on standby to provide rapid response if needed. All other navigation in the ship channel will be suspended during the complete transit process.
The damaged barge will be taken to the Southwest Shipyard at Channelview while the other barge will be towed to the Barbour’s Cut Turning Basin. Both barges will undergo thorough decontamination to remove all residue from any of the gasoline blend stock from their hulls. The MNI 3041 undamaged barge will be lightered at the Barbour’s Cut.
Editor’s note: Both shipyards are private property and are not accessible without the permission of the property owners.
May 13, 2019 4:48 PM
Unified Command continues response to collision on Houston Ship Channel near Bayport, Texas
A unified command, consisting of U.S. Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office, Port of Houston Fire Department and Kirby Inland Marine, continues to respond Monday to a collision between the 755-foot tanker Genesis River and the tug Voyager at Lights 71-74 in the Houston Ship Channel near Bayport, Texas.
Salvage teams have secured the barges in their current locations and continue to remove product from the damaged barge while crews prepare to conduct salvage operations on the capsized barge. Work is expected to continue throughout the day with an established priority of ensuring the protection of the bay from additional release of product.
Salvage assets include a crane barge, a lightering barge and multiple spud barges that are on scene to secure the damaged barges in place. Shoreline cleanup assessment teams have been deployed to areas where product may have reached the shore.
Six skimmers are on scene and have recovered more than 376 barrels of product-water mixture. More than 20,000-feet of boom has been deployed around the barges as well as surrounding sensitive shoreline areas.
Containment boom surrounds the damaged barge and skimming operations are in place to address possible release while product is transferred from the barge. There is active cleaning underway along Bay Shoreline due to reports of sheen.
Response teams continue to conduct air monitoring throughout the area with results posted at www.bayport-response.com. As of 3 p.m. Monday, 4,735 air quality assessments have been taken in the community and analyzed with no results showing above actionable levels. Water quality testing teams continue to conduct sampling and assess the need for shoreline remediation. The unified command is working closely with public health officials to ensure air and water sampling results are at safe levels to the public.
The Houston Ship Channel is opened with the following restrictions in place: no meeting or overtaking at Light 73, wake and surge considerations from Light 66-76, vessels are to favor the red side of the channel as a safety precaution. As of 2 p.m., there were no outbound vessels and 53 inbound vessels waiting to make safe passage through the channel. For recent updates to the vessel traffic queue visit www.bayport-response.com.
The Captain of the Port of Houston-Galveston has now opened traffic to recreational boaters.
A one nautical mile safety zone is in effect around the damaged barge. Marine Safety Information Bulletins can be viewed at https://homeport.uscg.mil/port-directory/houston-galveston.
Wildlife impacts include numerous fish in an isolated area, one raccoon, and three birds found deceased on the barge. If the public encounters impacted wildlife, they should not attempt a rescue or recovery. Untrained personnel can inflict serious injury to the animal or may be injured themselves. Instead, call and report impacted wildlife to 979-215-8835.
“We want to assure the public that we’re working diligently to protect health and safety, and return our port commerce to pre-incident status,” said Capt. Richard Howes, federal on-scene coordinator. “Coordination between federal, state and industry partners remains instrumental in the progress we’ve made in securing the barges to minimize impact to the environment.”
The incident occurred late Friday afternoon after the 755-foot tanker Genesis River and the tug Voyager collided at Lights 71-74 in the Houston Ship Channel. While there were no crew injuries associated with the incident, an estimated 9,000 barrels of gasoline blend stock was released into the channel from the barge that was struck by the tanker. The second barge was capsized and remains aground just outside the channel. The cause of the incident remains under investigation.
Key phone numbers:
Claims Hotline: 1-800-241-9010
Regional Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222
Impact to fish and wildlife: 979-215-8835
Air monitoring information: 281-757-3017
Joint Information Center: 281-755-4670
Updates and resources are available at www.bayport-response.com