Scrap-metal barges crash into electrical tower; Houston channel closed

The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
(HOUSTON) — The Coast Guard, CenterPoint Energy and American Electric Power continue working on the damaged high-line power structure in the Houston Ship Channel, Monday. CenterPoint Energy has contracted Big John Marine to help stabilize the structure and remove some of the stress off the power lines. CenterPoint will then disconnect the lines, reel them in, and work on removing the damaged structure. The Houston Ship Channel is estimated to stay closed until Tuesday evening.
Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston was notified at 6 a.m. Sunday that a barge had struck highline electrical structure 197 in Baytown. The tower supports power lines that cross the Houston Ship Channel.
The Coast Guard has stopped all inbound and outbound traffic to the Houston Ship Channel and established a safety zone from channel marker 105 to 124, roughly a four mile stretch of the ship channel. The power to the line was secured and poses no danger to the public. The line is owned by CenterPoint Energy.
AEP, the responsible party for this incident, owns the towing vessel Safety Quest. The Safety Quest was pushing three barges loaded with scrap metal when it allided with the Baytown high-line number 197. The high-line tower structure is currently being held up by one of the barges.

The crew from the Safety Quest were evacuated onto another vessel and moved to a safe area. Drug and alcohol testing has been administered.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.
By Professional Mariner Staff