The U.S. Coast Guard has shut down the sole waterway leading into the Port of Houston after a barge accident in which a barge hit an electrical tower in the water.  Access to the Port may be cut off until Wednesday.

The towing vessel, T/V Safety Quest, was pushing three barges of scrap metal when it hit the high-line electrical tower, which carries lines across the channel, at its narrowest point.  Those on site admit that logistically, this is a very bad location to have this occur.

The Coast Guard stopped all in and outbound traffic and established a safety zone from mile marker 105 to 124. The 25-mile-long port complex is a major economic engine for the city and in 2009 handled the most tonnage of any port in the country, according to the Port of Houston Authority.  The Port of Houston generates hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity daily.  Shutting this port down will cause an immeasurable loss to surrounding areas.

Power lines owned by CenterPoint Energy have been turned off.  Crew members from the towing vessel, the T/V Safety Quest, were removed from the boat and tested for drugs and alcohol.  The owners of the towing vessel are being sought by the Coast Guard at this time.   The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

More updates to come from Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers your Texas maritime lawyers.