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  • Writer's pictureGideon

Barge Collision with Galveston Bridge Leads to Partial Collapse and Oil Spill

In a significant incident that has disrupted traffic and raised environmental concerns, a barge collided with a bridge connecting Galveston and Pelican Island, Texas, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. The collision resulted in a partial collapse of the bridge and an oil spill, causing immediate action from local authorities and environmental agencies.

The incident occurred shortly before 10 a.m. when a tugboat operator pushing two barges lost control of them, as reported by David Flores, a bridge superintendent with the Galveston County Navigation District. The impact sent pieces of the bridge, which serves as the only road access to Pelican Island, tumbling onto the barge and necessitated the closure of a stretch of waterway to facilitate cleanup efforts.

No injuries were reported from the collision itself. However, the accident has affected the Pelican Island Causeway, the only road connecting Galveston to Pelican Island. This has temporarily stranded fewer than 200 people on the Texas A&M University at Galveston campus and disrupted vehicular traffic to and from the island.

The barge was carrying 30,000 gallons of vacuum gas oil, a product that has leaked into the water, creating a sheen on the bay. The U.S. Coast Guard, along with other emergency management officials, is on the scene to assess the extent of the spill and initiate containment and cleanup efforts.

In response to the incident, four bridge inspectors from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) have been dispatched to evaluate the damage to the bridge. The assessment is critical in determining if there is any further damage to the roadway, which is expected to remain closed for an extended period.

The collision has also caused a power outage on Pelican Island, which was fortunately restored by the afternoon. The incident has highlighted the importance of safety measures and protocols in maritime operations and the potential risks that come with transporting hazardous materials.

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