Barge Spill Fouls Houston Ship Channel

CREWS pumped oil Monday from a barge that buckled as it was being loaded and spilled more than 21,000 gallons of crude into the Houston Ship Channel. The barge was taking on a load of crude at the ARCO Petrochemical Company dock when it buckled in about 10 feet of water Sunday leaving the middle resting on the bottom of the channel and both ends up in the air, officials said.

Coast Guard Lt. (j.g.) Amy Kritz said containment booms were set up soon after the 10 a.m. accident to keep the spill from spreading.

The accident occurred days after crews finished cleaning up a 700,000-gallon spill in the ship channel that occurred when a tanker hit two barges.

The channel was not closed, ``but we have asked ships to move at the minimum safe speed, so as not to agitate the booms and not allow the oil to get out,'' Lieutenant Kritz said. ``The oil has pretty much stayed in the docking area.''

The barge, which has a capacity of about 15,000 barrels, was about 75 percent full of moderately heavy No. 6 crude when the spill occurred, said Kritz.

The spill was being cleaned up by ARCO and Garner Environmental of Houston, Kritz said.

The Coast Guard on Friday completed a two-week cleanup of a the oil spill that occurred July 28 when a Greek tanker collided with two barges under tow in the Houston Ship Channel.

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