GALVESTON, Texas – A barge carrying about 1 million gallons of Naphtha petroleum caught fire after a collision off the coast of Galveston, Texas, early Monday.
The incident began at about 1:20 a.m. on the Bolivar Peninsula section of the Intracoastal Waterway shipping channel, after a tugboat carrying a barge lost power and collided with another vessel. A rupture aboard one of the barges caused the fire.
The flames were extinguished around 5:30 a.m. The Intracoastal Waterway remains shut down. There were no reports of injuries or spills, but officials continue to investigate.
Investigators are now looking for the scene for any possible environmental impacts.
The Galveston/Bolivar ferry service was not disrupted. Authorities say some nearby ship traffic was suspended but that traffic along the Houston Ship Channel was not affected.
Naphtha is a colorless liquid petroleum product with a gasoline or kerosene-like odor that can cause irritation to eyes, nose and throat, as well as dizziness, drowsiness, headache and nausea.
Naphtha is less dense (6.1-6.3 lb/gal) than water and insoluble in water. It is used in cleaning preparations, as a solvent, and as a raw material for making various chemicals, with a flash point above 100° F.
The last major barge collision on the Intracoastal Waterway shipping channel occurred in March 2014, when a 585-foot ship collided with a barge and caused 168,000 gallons of thick oil to spill.