Marine Link
Thursday, June 20, 2024

Oil Spill Contained After Barge Slams Bridge in Galveston

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 16, 2024

(Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

(Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

An oil spill from a runaway barge that struck a bridge near Galveston has been contained, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Thursday.

At approximately 10 a.m. Wednesday, Martin Marine's barge MMLP 321 broke loose due to a break in the coupling and allided with the Pelican Island Causeway bridge, which connects Galveston Island and Pelican Island in Texas.

There were no reports of injuries or any people in the water, officials said.

One of the barge's cargo tanks became compromised as a result of the allision, causing an unknown quantity of vacuum gas oil to spill into the water. A Coast Guard Air Station Houston overflight as well as drones are being deployed to evaluate the extent of the spill.

(Photo: U.S. Coast Guard) 

The spill source has been contained, boom has been deployed and additional oil spill assets are responding, the Coast Guard said. 

The damaged bridge, which is under the jurisdiction of Galveston County Navigational District 1 (GCND1), is being assessed by GCND1 with the assistance of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

The bridge is open to car traffic leaving Pelican Island and pedestrian traffic both ways. Its condition could change throughout the day as the damage is evaluated. Pedestrian traffic entering the island is only open to residents, employees, and students of Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG).

At approximately 10:30 p.m. yesterday, Texas A&M students, faculty, and non-essential personnel were relocated from the island. Texas A&M students and employees are advised to follow the University’s instructions for the incident.

A unified command team has been establish to lead the response efforts. It includes the U.S. Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office and Martin Marine

Additional agencies supporting the response include Texas A&M University Galveston Campus, Texas Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Port of Houston Authority, E3 OMI, T & T Marine, The Response Group Inc., The City of Galveston, Galveston County Office of Emergency Management and Texas City Office of Emergency Management

Constructed in 1960, the bascule bridge—the last of its kind in Texas—has long been pegged for replacement, though the plans to do so have progressed slowly.

The collision comes amid heightened concerns about bridge vulnerability after the containership Dali collided with Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge in March, leading to the collapse of the structure and the deaths of six workers.

The U.S. Coast Guard this week said it is evaluating whether other bridges over navigable waters, ports and waterways nationwide are at risk.