Barge strikes bridge in Galveston, causing oil spill


A barge collided early Wednesday morning with a ferry connecting Galveston, Texas, to a small island, sending debris and oil into the Gulf, officials said.

The Pelican Island Bridge was attacked around 10 a.m. and was closed to car traffic until further notice, closing the island's only road, the city of Galveston said in a statement. There were no reported injuries. The bridge connects the northern part of Galveston Island to the southern part of Pelican Island, which is home to the Texas A&M University campus and two museums.

The barge has a capacity of 30,000 gallons, but it is unclear how much oil was spilled into Galveston Bay, according to the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management. said on social media,

Ship traffic in the channel was temporarily halted, county officials said, and structural damage to the bridge was being assessed by the Texas Department of Transportation. The cause of the accident could not be immediately known. Power was temporarily disrupted on Pelican Island but was restored by Wednesday afternoon.

Richard Freed, vice president of the marine division of Martin Midstream Partners, said the barge was owned and operated by Martin Operating Partnership, one of its subsidiaries. The accident occurred when the barge broke free from its rope and was “swept” into the bridge, he said.

He said the leak, which he described as “limited”, had been contained by Wednesday afternoon.

“We have crews on site to assess the damage,” Mr. Freed said in an emailed statement. “The company has already engaged a salvage company to assist in removing the barge from the bridge area.”

The accident came on the same day that a senior U.S. Coast Guard official told a congressional committee that states and other bridge operators should evaluate the types of vessels traveling near bridges, especially older bridges.

The officer, Vice Admiral Peter Gautier, was testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which is investigating the federal response to the March 26 cargo ship crash that brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, killing six people. had died and concerns had deepened. About the state of the country's infrastructure.

The city of Galveston said in its statement that city, state and university emergency management officials responded to the accident on Wednesday, adding that the U.S. Coast Guard was assessing the extent of the leak and “will begin containment and cleanup procedures.”

Texas A&M University at Galveston said on social media that power had been restored to the campus, which is home to the school's marine and oceanic program.

Aerial footage from CBS affiliate KHOU-TV shows a collapsed section of an abandoned railroad bridge, which runs alongside the railroad. A large chunk of concrete and metal lay on the bow of the barge as a long vein of oil was leaking into Galveston Bay. Emergency responders converged on the road surface, and live footage showed pickup trucks approaching the bridge.

The Pelican Island Bridge is just west of the Port of Galveston, a deep-water shipping channel that is one of the busiest cruise ports in North America. According to its website, more than 900 cruise and cargo ships and other vessels pass through the port each year.

According to The Houston Chronicle, the bridge to Pelican Island was built in 1959 and carries an average of about 9,100 cars per day, the majority of which travel to and from the complex. Much of the island is undeveloped, with only one major road across it.

In March, The Galveston County Daily News reported that the Port of Houston Authority had approved an agreement with Galveston County to provide $300 million of land for a new $100 million vehicle bridge and a rail bridge on the island.




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