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Barge Spills Oil After Hitting Bridge Pillar in Galveston Bay

A barge spilled oil in the busy shipping channels in Galveston Bay after slamming into a column of the bridge that connects Galveston and Pelican Island in Texas, local officials said.

No injuries or fatalities were reported in the incident.  

The collision occurred on Wednesday after a tugboat operator pushing two barges lost control of them, Associated Press cited David Flores, a bridge superintendent with the Galveston County Navigation District, as saying.

The high tide and the “very bad” current were the reasons why the tugboat operator lost control of the two barges, Flores added.

The barge that hit the bridge column was carrying a base petroleum product, a type of petroleum oil, Texas officials told the BBC.

Galveston, Texas, hosts major refineries and is a major shipping area as a hub of international seaborne trade, including in oil and refined products.

Experts told AP that the collision is unlikely to significantly impact shipping in Galveston Bay as it occurred in a lesser-used lane.

After the barge slammed into the bridge column, authorities in the City of Galveston said that “Pelican Island Bridge in Galveston is closed to all vehicular traffic.”

“The collision has resulted in an oil spill in the bay. The U.S. Coast Guard is responding and will determine the extent of the spill, as well as initiate the containment and cleanup processes.”

Engineers from the Texas Department of Transportation are also inspecting the roadway to determine if there is damage. The bridge will remain closed until it is deemed safe to use, the City of Galveston authorities said.   

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The barge collision with the bridge in Galveston occurred less than two months after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore at the end of March. The bridge collapsed after a cargo ship lost power and slammed into the construction, which crumbled within seconds and disrupted navigation near the Baltimore port, which is one of the biggest coal export terminals in America.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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