Oil Tanker, Barge Collision Causes Massive Gas Spill in Houston Ship Chanel

The Houston Ship Channel and adjacent refineries part of the Port of Houston are seen in Houston

The Houston Ship Channel and adjacent refineries part of the Port of Houston are seen in Houston

There were 33 vessels waiting to move inbound and 27 waiting to exit on Saturday afternoon, the group said Saturday afternoon, with 91 vessels at anchor.

One of the barges capsized, while the other was severely damaged, according to the Coast Guard.

The tugboat named Voyager was moving two barges filed with thousands of barrels of gasoline stock reformate when it collided with the tanker around 3:30 p.m. near Bayport, Texas, according to KHOU 11.

Officials say the spilled product is toxic to touch, inhale or ingest.

In addition to the chemical spill into the water, a strong odor has reached the western shore of both the Galveston and Trinity bays, and a faint odor has been detected as far west as Interstate-45. It is also highly flammable. Reformate is a refined product that is added to gasoline to boost its octane levels.

Coast Guard Capt. Kevin Oditt said crews were working on securing the barges, initiating salvage and recovery operations and reopening the channel. The town of Seabrook said its volunteer fire department was dispatched to check out its community.

"We know the air is coming this way".

In March, a fire at a petrochemical tank farm along the waterway burned for days, sending black smoke into the air and spilling fuel and solvent into the channel, disrupting ship traffic for weeks. Each barge carried some 25,000 barrels of reformate. Air quality reports are being monitored and at this time, residents do NOT need to take any action.

The U.S. Coast Guard has set up an incident command and reported no injuries Friday night.