Houston Ship Channel reopens to vessel traffic following tanker collision

Ship plows into barges in Houston channel, spilling toxic gas additive into bay (VIDEO)

The Coast Guard said air monitoring is being conducted.

A U.S. Coast Guard-led response team has begun the hazardous task of siphoning about 1.7 million gallons of the fuel component remaining inside a pair of barges damaged during the May 10 incident.

The Coast Guard says each barge was carrying an estimated 25,000 barrels of reformate and that an unknown volume of the gasoline product spilled. Officials say the spilled product is toxic to touch, inhale or ingest. Each barge carried some 25,000 barrels of reformate.

"It's a light chemical and it floats on the water, which allows it to evaporate", Galveston Bay Foundation CEO Bob Stokes told KTRK.

"We know the air is coming this way".

Nine U.S. oil refineries that process 12 percent of the national total operate along the ship channel.

There non-public been no reported accidents.

The United States Coast Guard said it will investigate the crash, adding that an investigation is already underway into what led up to the incident.

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. Those areas include Seabrook, La Porte, El Lago, Pasadena, Clear Lake Shores, Friendswood, Pearland, League City, Texas City and Bacliff.

"The bow of the ship went through the port tank into the starboard tank" and both were open to the sea, said Guidry.

The collision happened around 3:15 p.m. CT on Friday just east of Barbers Cut, click2Houston.com reported.

The transport channel used to be closed in the location of the accident.

There were 44 vessels waiting lined up to enter the ship channel and 37 vessels waiting to leave on Sunday morning, according to the Houston Pilots association.

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