HOUSTON (Reuters) - A barge carrying gasoline capsized and leaked its cargo into the Houston Ship Channel near Bayport, Texas, following a collision on Friday with a 755-foot tanker, officials said.
No injuries were reported. It was unclear how much gasoline spilled out of the breached barge, which partially sank. Salvage teams were at the site on Saturday, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.
It was the second spill in two months to affect traffic on the 53-mile commercial waterway that connects Houston to the Gulf of Mexico. Nine U.S. oil refineries that process 12 percent of the national total operate along the ship channel.
Air monitoring systems have detected no "above actionable levels" of pollution, said Bayport Channel Collision Response, a group of federal, state and shipping officials organized to clear the wreckage and deal with the spill.
Emergency responders placed 1,600 feet of floating boom lines around the barges and additional booms along sensitive areas along the nearby bay, the group said.
The collision, between tanker Genesis River and a Kirby Inland Marine tug towing two barges, halted all traffic between lights 61 and 75, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
A safety zone also was set up that expanded shipping restrictions to light 66 and up to but not including the Bayport Ship Channel, officials said.
Each of the two barges were carrying about 25,000 gallons of a gasoline blend stock called reformate, according to Bayport Channel Collision Response.
In March, a fire at a petrochemical tank farm along the waterway burned for days, sending black smoke into the air and spilling fuel and solvent into the channel, disrupting ship traffic for weeks. Hundreds of people reported respiratory and other ailments at clinics set up to provide medical aid after the fire.
(Reporting by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
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Updated Date: May 12, 2019 00:05:31 IST