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USCG photo by PA2 James Dillard

 

A tugboat pushing two barges collided with a 755- foot tanker Friday afternoon near Bayport, Texas, resulting in an estimated 25,000 barrels of gas leaking into the Houston Ship Channel.

The impact was so severe that it left the Genesis River tanker nearly split into two. One of the barges capsized and the other was badly damaged. There were no reported injuries, and the cause of the collision has yet to be determined.

The barges were carrying Reformate- a gasoline blend stock – which has now caused a health concern for residents and fellow marine life in the bay area. The Coast Guard advised that 1,600 feet of boom has been deployed by crews to contain the spill, and an additional boom is being deployed to protect sensitive areas around the bay.

Air monitoring is being conducted by Bayport Channel Collision Response, and so far, no reports of abnormal air quality has been detected. The Galveston County Health District released the following statement on Saturday:

The Galveston County Health District continues to work with our partners to monitor potential impact of Friday’s Galveston Bay barge accident.

“Some residents are reporting a strong smell of gasoline and there is clearly an odor in the air in some areas of the county. However, air monitoring reports for Galveston County show no toxic levels at this time,” said Galveston County Local Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser. 

Our concern remains for the health and safety of the community. Some residents are reporting a strong smell of gasoline. A gasoline smell does not necessarily mean there is a health hazard or harmful particles in the air.

If you are experiencing the smell of gasoline and are concerned, it is recommended that you use your best judgement, stay inside and contact your healthcare provider. 

Symptoms may include coughing, difficulty breathing, headaches, nausea, dizziness and burning, irritation and redness to the skin, eyes, nose and throat. Some members of the community may be more susceptible than others. The elderly, children, pregnant and those with respiratory issues or weakened immune systems may be especially affected. 

We recommend you contact your healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms. Pets may also be impacted and experience similar symptoms. If care is needed, please contact your veterinarian. 

GCHD has established a hotline for health-related questions. If you’d like to speak to a representative, please call 409-938-7221.

 

The channel remains closed between Bayport and Redfish Island, halting 29 inbound and 17 outbound ships.

 

In order to determine which maritime laws you are protected under and to receive a reasonable and fair settlement, you would want to hire a qualified and experienced maritime lawyer. Please feel free to contact Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer, & Harris, L.L.P. at 713-364-0723 for a free consultation with one of our maritime lawyers today!

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