Another day another environmental disaster gifted to us by the fossil fuel industry. Maybe. In the wee hours of Monday morning, a pair of barges collided near the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel. One of the barges was carrying a million gallons of Naptha, which caught on fire and an undetermined amount spilled into the bay. The fire was put out within four hours and there doesn’t seem to be much news coverage.
According to the Houston Press there’s a history of barge collisions and resulting fossil fuel spills in that area. That report lays the blame on the Coast Guard whose policy is to track all ship movement, but to do nothing to warn ships they’re about to run into each other. In other words, unlike airplane traffic, ship traffic doesn’t have an equivalent to the air traffic controllers to tell pilots exactly what to do.
Following the previous major Houston area barge collision, in March 2014, the NTSB determined the Coast Guard’s policies were to blame, and scolded the Coast Guard for not doing enough.
While it’s known the damaged barge was carrying a million gallons of Naptha, the Coast Guard doesn’t know how much (if any) of it spilled.
The event is yet another under-reported incident of direct ecological damage resulting from mishandled fossil fuel products.
By contrast – there’s no equivalent danger for renewable energy sources like solar or wind power.
Local reporting: ABC13, KHOU, Reuters, Platts
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