Texas: Part Of Pelican Island Bridge Hit By Barge, Prompting Oil Spill

Oil spills into the surrounding waters after a barge hit a bridge in Galveston, Texas, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. A bridge that leads to Pelican Island, located just north of Galveston, was hit by a barge around 9:30 a.m., said Ronnie Varela, with the Galveston's Office of Emergency Management.(KTRK via AP)
Oil spills into the surrounding waters after a barge hit a bridge in Galveston, Texas, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. A bridge that leads to Pelican Island, located just north of Galveston, was hit by a barge around 9:30 a.m., said Ronnie Varela, with the Galveston’s Office of Emergency Management.(KTRK via AP)

OAN’s Abril Elfi
12:15 PM – Wednesday, May 15, 2024

A bridge connecting Pelican Island and Galveston, Texas, was hit by an incoming barge, prompting a closure and an oil spill.

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The Galveston Sheriff’s Office stated that a barge hit the Pelican Island Causeway on Wednesday morning, causing a piece of the bridge to fall, which resulted in an oil spill that funneled into the bay.

The U.S. Coast Guard decided to move forward with the closure because the oil leak was heading toward the coast, according to County Judge Mark Henry. While personnel rushed to the location, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway was closed.

Given that the waterway along the Texas coast sees a significant amount of maritime commercial traffic, the closure is a severe blow to operations. The closure is also a complication for those on Pelican Island as it is the only way into the city. 

Henry said that at around 10 a.m., the vessel under tow broke loose and slammed into the railroad side of the bridge, which has not been in use. He also told the press that two crew members on the ship were either thrown or jumped off, but they were quickly rescued. 

As a result of the incident, vacuum oil gas is still leaking from the barge, which has a capacity of 30,000 gallons. However, it was not immediately known how much oil the barge had been carrying.

The sheriff’s office stated that crews are now on scene assessing the damage, and despite the initial outage, the island has switched over to their secondary power source. 

Texas A&M University Galveston is on Pelican Island and the school shared an alert on Wednesday about the bridge closure.

“Sea Aggie Alert: The Pelican Island Bridge is closed to all traffic at this time due to a barge strike. Electricity has been restored and additional updates will be provided as the situation unfolds. The next scheduled update will be at 1200.”

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