The Bolivar/Galveston, Texas, ferry re-opened at 2:50 p.m. after being closed for seven hours today. Sheening was seen on the water near the Bolivar ferry terminal after approximately 42,000 gallons of alkylate, a gasoline blend component, was spilled into the Houston Ship Channel near
Galveston from a collision between two tugs and barges this morning. The Intracostal Waterway is open to one-way traffic.
The alkylate, which dissipates very rapidly, came from the #2 and #3 tanks on the port side of the barge MMI 605 being pushed by the Rita M. The barge can carry as much as 1.25 million gallons of the product; approximately 225,311 gallons were in the two damaged tanks.
"Little if any environmental impact has occurred at this time," said Richard Arnhart, Texas General Land Office
. "We will continue to monitor the site."
The Houston Ship Channel had been closed since the incident at 4:15 a.m. and the Coast Guard Captain of the Port, Capt. Rich Kaser, re-opened it at 8:30 a.m. The Bolivar Roads section of the Intracostal Waterway and the Bolivar Ferry had been closed since 7:45 a.m. due to the gasoline spill.
Two injured crewmembers on the Rita M were taken to shore where an ambulance took them to the University of Texas Medical Branch.
The Rita M was pushing two barges and the UTV Thunder is an integrated sea-going tug with one barge.
Coast Guard responders are investigating the collision between the Rita M and the UTV Thunder.
The unified command consists of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Galveston; Texas General Land Office; Higman Marine Services Inc.; Galveston County Sheriff's Office; J.F. Moore International; Marine Survey Engineers; Texas Parks and Wildlife; Texas City Emergency Management; Galveston County Emergency Management
; and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.