GALVESTON, TEX., JULY 28 -- An oil tanker collided with two fuel barges in the Houston Ship Channel today, sinking one of the barges and causing fuel spills, Coast Guard officials said.
The Liberian tanker Shinoussa was headed into Galveston Bay when it collided with the barges being moved into the channel by the tugboat Chandy N near Redfish Island just before 3 p.m., Coast Guard Petty Officer Kevin Johnson said.
No injuries were reported.
Both barges suffered damage and were leaking fuel, Johnson said. One of the barges, loaded with 18,000 barrels of No. 5 heavy fuel oil, sank at its stern on the channel's east side.
"The second barge is damaged and it's leaking oil," Johnson said. "But it's still attached to the tug." The second barge contained 24,000 barrels of No. 5 fuel.
It was not immediately known how much oil had leaked into the already heavily polluted channel.
A third barge attached to the tugboat and carrying 20,000 barrels of fuel was not damaged, nor was the tug, Johnson said.
The tanker, loaded with 230,000 barrels of jet fuel, was damaged, but no fuel leaked, Johnson said. The ship was moved back up the channel and anchored late today.
The tug and barges are owned by Apex RE&T Inc., a St. Louis-based towing firm, Johnson said.
The damaged barge that did not sink was out of danger, said Tom Kniestedt of Apex.
The Houston Ship Channel was closed immediately following the accident and remained closed at dusk.
The cause of the collision was being investigated, Johnson said.
Booms were deployed tonight to contain the spill and the cleanup was underway, Johnson said. An oil slick drifted to the southwest and none had come ashore, he said.