U.S. intensifies cleanup after oil barge explosion 

U.S. intensifies cleanup after oil barge explosion
A Corpus Christi Fire Department vessel attempts to extinguish a fire onboard a barge approximately three miles from the Port Aransas, Texas, jetties Oct. 20, 2017. A Coast Guard Corpus Christi MH-65 Dolphin and HC-144 Ocean Sentry are searching for two missing crewmembers. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

By Jite Eriabie 

A Unified Command made up of representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office, and Bouchard Transportation continue to respond to an oil discharge after a crude oil barge exploded and caught fire three miles off the jetties of Port Aransas, Texas.

As of Monday evening, beach cleanup operations had removed approximately 48 cubic yards of oily solids from the impacted shoreline on Mustang Island and North Padre Island. Six cleanup teams, totaling over 120 people, are actively engaged in beach cleanup.

Two wildlife response teams and one wildlife response vessel continue to assess any impacted wildlife between the Padre Island National Seashore and Port Aransas. Any recovered wildlife will be taken to the Amos Rehabilitation Keep at University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas.

The Coast Guard reports that there has been no further discharge of oil from the barge and air overflights observed no oil remaining on the water.

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A Corpus Christi Fire Department vessel extinguishes a fire onboard a barge approximately three miles from the Port Aransas, Texas, jetties Oct. 20, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

As of Sunday, crews had removed of 2,500 barrels of oil-water mix from the barge through lightering operations. The Coast Guard meanwhile was able to reopen the Entrance Channel to the port of Corpus Christi to inbound and outbound traffic.

Response personnel are applying high expansion foam to the cargo tanks of the barge as a preventive measure to suppress vapors in the tanks. There is no fire or firefighting activity ongoing. The barge remains safely in place with two response vessels on standby.

“The TGLO’s oil spill response team and unified command partners have deployed along the affected beaches to quickly clean any shoreline impacts so that beach-goers can return to enjoying the natural beauty of the Texas coast,” said George P. Bush, Texas General Land Office Commissioner.

The crude oil barge, owned by Bouchard Transportation, exploded and caught fire in its forward section early Friday morning off Port Aransas, Texas. The Coast Guard suspended the search for two missing crewmembers on Saturday evening. The barge was connected to the tug Buster Bouchard. Six crew members aboard the tug were unharmed in the incident.   

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The Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office and Bouchard Transportation representatives continue to respond to a barge that caught fire Friday morning three miles off the jetties of Port Aransas, Texas on Oct. 21, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

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