Houston Ship Channel restrictions could last all week

The Houston Ship Channel could continue to operate under one-way travel restrictions for the rest of the week, following the collision between LPG tanker Genesis River (IMO 9791224)  and a barge that spilled petrochemicals into the waterway, according to an official.

About 9,000 barrels of gasoline spilled into the channel near Bayport, Texas, when a 755-foot (230-m) tanker collided with a Kirby Inland Marine tugboat that was towing two barges containing the fuel. One barge ruptured and the other capsized. The barges were blocking part of the channel, hence the decision of the US Coast Guard to limit travel to one-way traffic.

The 53-mile waterway connects Houston to the Gulf of Mexico and is home to nine oil refineries that together refine 12% of US oil.

No injuries were reported from the collision.

JJ Plunkett, port agent for the Houston Pilots, said that “the damaged barges are in a heavily trafficked area of the channel. Everyone is affected.”

Officials expect to finish siphoning fuel from the first barge by Tuesday May 14th and then begin emptying the capsized, second barge. Emergency workers will have to cut through the hull of the second barge to offload its fuel.