A barge on the Intercoastal Waterway near Houston collided with another. The result was the first barge, carrying over 1 million gallons (>3 million liters) of petroleum naphtha, caught fire and spilled its contents into the waterway, creating a small oil spill. Fortunately, officials contained the situation and were able to get it under control quickly.
The Barge’s Oil Spill
The oil spill occurred after the barge collided with another ship. The collision resulted in a fire on the barge carrying the oil. This fire damaged the haul of the vessel and caused it to release its contents into the Intercoastal Waterway by Houston Texas.
The Houston Fire Department sent some of their fire boats out to the oil spill to put out the fire. The Coast Guard shut down a portion of the waterway around mile marker 348 near the Bolivar Peninsula. The closure has not halted ship traffic along the channel, fortunately.
The InterCoastal Waterway
The Intercoastal Waterway is one of the most important oil shipping lanes in the United States. The channel lets cargo ships and barges get crude oil to more than a tenth of the nation’s oil refining stations. It also helps with the export of refined fuels to international markets. It runs from New Jersey, all the way down the East Coast, down around Florida, through the Gulf of Mexico, and ending near Texas. The waterway is around 3,000 miles (~4,800 kilometers) and is no stranger to collisions and has had an oil spill or two in its time.
This past June, there was an incident that caused a 23,000 gallon (~87,000 liters) oil spill in the waterway. Also, in March, there were two collisions within a week. Parts of the waterway were briefly closed on all of these events. Small collisions are not uncommon as the waters can get quite busy and crowded during certain times of the year. If an oil spill occurs somewhere on the waterway, there are procedures to contain the pollution and clean it up as soon as possible.
Officials say that there should not be any lasting environmental ramifications from this most recent oil spill as it was tended to quickly.
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