Galveston County monitoring air quality concerns related to barge incident in Galveston Bay
A barge accident occurred around 3:30pm this afternoon in Galveston Bay. The Galveston County Office of Emergency Management (GCOEM) has confirmed that a barge containing reformate was involved in an incident with two other vessels. The collision occurred south of Morgan’s Point in the Houston Ship Channel. The United States Coast Guard is taking the lead on emergency response and Galveston County is assisting with all resources that may be requested.
Reformate is a chemical that is used as a blending additive to gasoline. It is flammable and toxic if inhaled, comes into contact with skin or is ingested.
The Port of Houston and Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH) are currently monitoring the air quality in and around the accident. Preliminary air monitoring reports coming from air monitoring resources in cities of Kemah and Clear Lake Shores are not showing any actionable levels of concern in air quality. These air monitoring systems will remain in the area to continue monitoring air quality. Some residents are reporting a strong smell of gasoline. A gasoline smell does not necessarily mean there is a health hazard or harmful particles in the air and air monitoring is showing no concern for public health at this time.
Although preliminary readings show no actionable levels, if you are experiencing the smell of gasoline and are concerned, it is recommended that you use your best judgement and stay inside and avoid the coastlines along Kemah, Clear Lake Shores, Bacliff, San Leon, and League City, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.
Galveston County will continue to monitor the situation and air quality levels while working closely with the United States Coast Guard and other entities to ensure that all parties have the most up to date information.