Ships are only moving inbound on Monday morning along the Houston Ship Channel after a Friday collision between a barge and deep-draft ship that spilled petrochemicals into the waterway, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The tugboat named Voyager was moving two barges filed with thousands of barrels of gasoline stock reformate when it collided with the tanker around 3:30 p.m. near Bayport, Texas, according to KHOU 11. Reformate is toxic to marine life. "However, air monitoring reports for Galveston County show no toxic levels at this time", said Galveston County Local Health Authority Dr.
"Our objective today is to secure the vessels", U.S. Coast Guard Captain Kevin Oditt told reporters. Both barges were carrying about 25,000 barrels of reformate, which is refined chemical product that is blended with gasoline to boost octane levels.
Officials say the spilled product can be hazardous.
One barge capsized and the other was split open by the impact, spilling its cargo into the waterway and blanketing the region around the channel with a strong chemical odor.
"We know the air is coming this form". A Port Houston Fire Department fireboat plus oil spill response, air monitoring and salvage personnel are responding, the Coast Guard said.
The National Weather Service has warned that people living nearby may be able to smell gasoline fumes.
Officials say the tested samples of Reformate don't pose a risk to local residents at this point and the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health is now monitoring nearby communities.
The 52-mile long Houston Ship Channel connects the country's number one export region and the Americas' largest petrochemical manufacturing complex to domestic and foreign markets via the Gulf of Mexico.
The Houston Ship Channel is closed from Light 61 to Light 75.
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