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

A gas tanker has collided with two barges on its way out of the Houston Shipping Channel, spilling potentially tens of thousands of barrels of toxic gasoline additive into the water.

The Genesis River smashed into two barges en route to a container dock off Galveston Bay, capsizing one and severely damaging the other and spilling reformate, a highly-flammable gas additive that is extremely toxic to marine life, into the water. The barges carried around 25,000 barrels of the chemical each, but the amount spilled is unknown, according officials cited by local media.

The crash occurred around 3:30 on Friday and a Port of Houston fire boat responded. No one was injured, though residents as far as 40 miles from the coast have reported a strong chemical odor, according to the Emergency Operations Center of Friendswood, a city outside Houston. The shipping channel has been partially closed.

The Houston Shipping Channel was temporarily closed for several days in March following an earlier petrochemical spill from the Intercontinental Terminals Co. storage facility in Deer Park that sent fuel, water, and fire-suppressant foam pouring into the waterway.