Houston Ship Channel reopens after collision, spill

Houston Ship Channel Spill

(HOUSTON) — A bottleneck of inbound traffic eased Tuesday after the Houston Ship Channel reopened, though one-way travel restrictions remained following a collision Friday between a tanker and a barge, Reuters reported.

About 9,000 barrels of reformate, a gasoline blend stock, spilled into the channel near Bayport, Texas, when a 755-foot Genesis River collided with one of two barges being pushed by a Kirby Inland Marine tugboat.

Salvage operations were continuing on Tuesday on the barge that ruptured and the second, which capsized.

Forty-four ships were waiting at 1 p.m. local time to enter the 53-mile waterway connecting the refining hubs of Houston and Texas City, up from 35 vessels on Tuesday morning, Bayport Channel Collision Response said.

Twelve outbound vessels were waiting on Tuesday afternoon, down from 14 at 6 a.m., said the group, which is overseeing the cleanup and salvage. Another 106 ships were at anchorage awaiting transit.

Emergency workers have not yet begun cutting into the hull of the capsized barge, which has six tanks with fuel that will have to be removed. Responders are considering towing the barge before removing the fuel, officials said.

The channel could remain under one-way travel restrictions all week, according to a port agent for the Houston Pilots.

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By Professional Mariner Staff