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Vessel collision causes oil spill in Houston channel

Posted on Mar 23 2014 | IANS

Washington, March 23 : A ship and a barge containing nearly a million gallons of fuel collided and caused oil spill at a channel in the US state of Texas Saturday, the US Coast Guard said.

The incident happened Saturday noon in the Houston Ship Channel in south Texas, Xinhua quoted the Coast Guard as saying in a release. The barge, which contained 924,000 gallons of fuel oil, collided with a 585-foot (178-metre) bulk carrier.

Officials said the barge was travelling from Texas City to Bolivar at the time of the collision.

Operators of the barge activated its emergency response plan and all six crew members were accounted for and are in stable condition, authorities said.

A sheen of oil has been reported on the water, but the quantity of product released remained immediately unknown.

Marine traffic in the affected stretch of the Houston Ship Channel has been temporarily suspended. And it's not immediately known when it will be reopened. Owner of the barge is working in a unified response with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Texas General Land Office on the scene.

The latest incident is the second collision in the Houston Ship Channel in just over a week. On March 14, a cargo ship carrying grain collided with a barge carrying 840,000 gallons of fuel oil in the channel but did not cause any spill.

The Houston channel, which is part of the Port of Houston, one of the US' busiest seaports, is the conduit for ocean-going vessels between Houston-area terminals and the Gulf of Mexico, and serves an increasing volume of inland barge traffic.

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