US | Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:34pm EDT Related: U.S. Gulf waterway near Houston partly shut after barge crash, fire HOUSTON | By Erwin Seba
 HOUSTON A section of a key Gulf Coast waterway was shut after two barges collided early on Monday, setting one of them on fire near the entrance to the Houston Ship Channel, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), which runs between barrier islands and the coast of the U.S. mainland in the Gulf of Mexico, was shut from where it intersects the Houston Ship Channel to Mile Market 350 on the ICW.
The Houston Ship Channel itself, which supplies the nation's busiest petrochemical port, remained open after the collision shortly after 1 a.m. local time (0600 GMT).
The Coast Guard said the fire was extinguished after more than four hours on one of the barges.
The Coast Guard was attempting to determine if any of the 1 million gallons of highly volatile gasoline additive naphtha being carried by the barge that caught on fire spilled into the waterway or was burned by the blaze, a spokesman said.
Earlier it had said that there had been a spill of naphtha into the waterway.
A dispatcher for the Houston ship pilots association said vessels moving on the Ship Channel near the ICW entrance were moving at a slower speed on Monday morning.
"The ICW on the Bolivar (Peninsula) side is closed, no effect on the Ship Channel," the dispatcher said. "They have to slow when they go through the area, but other than that there's no problems."
The collision occurred when both the barges were being hauled by tug boats and one of the tugs lost power, the Coast Guard said.
It was unclear what environmental impact the spill would have. The Environmental Protection Administration referred all questions to the Coast Guard.
Houston is one of the main U.S. seaports in the United States.
(In this corrected version of the story Coast Guard says it is unknown if there was a spill of naphtha)
 (Additional reorting by Kustav Samanta and Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru and Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York.; Editing by and Bernadette Baum and W Simon)
 Petroleum Naphtha From Barge Spills In Houston Ship Channel
Reuters Monday, July 20, 2015 - 8:16am
A barge carrying one million gallons of petroleum naphtha caught fire and spilled the product in Houston Ship Channel on July 20 after colliding with another barge in Texas, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard closed a section of the Houston Ship Channel from mile marker 348 near Bolivar Peninsula, but the incident is not affecting ship channel traffic, a Coast Guard spokesman said.
The channel is part of the Port of Houston, one of the busiest seaports in the United States.
As one of the most important oil shipping lanes in the United States, it allows barges and cargo ships to supply crude to more than a tenth of the nation's refining capacity and the export of refined fuels to international markets.
The collision occurred around 1:20 a.m. (0620 GMT), when both the barges were being hauled by tug boats and one of the tugs lost power, according to a report on the website of Houston's Channel 13, an ABC affiliate.
 The barge that caught fire after being ruptured by the collision had been extinguished by a Houston Fire Department fire boat, it said.
The U.S. Coast Guard said it was not sure if the spill had any environmental impact. There were no reports of injuries.
In June, a section of the channel was briefly closed following the release of up to 23,000 gallons of naphtha after a cargo tank on a barge was damaged.
In March, there were two separate collisions on the waterway within the space of one week, with brief shutdowns of the channel.
The Ship Channel is a 55-foot (17-meter) deep pathway for barges and deep-draft ships cut into the floor of Galveston Bay, which averages 20 feet (6 meters) in depth.
 Small barge collisions are not uncommon on the busy waterway, particularly as traffic has increased lately due to a surge in exports of refined fuels. However most incidents are cleared up quickly and major spills are relatively rare.
 Barge catches fire following Houston Ship Channel collision
Barges collide
The US Coast Guard says two barges have collided in the Houston Ship Channel. One of those barges is now on fire and spilling petroleum naphtha into the waterway.
Updated 1 hr 24 mins ago GALVESTON, TX (KTRK) -- The US Coast Guard says two barges have collided in the Houston Ship Channel. One of those barges caught on fire, but those flames are now out.
The collision happened around 1:20am this morning. The Coast Guard says both barges were being hauled by tug boats when one of the tugs lost power. The barge it was carrying then struck the other barge.
PHOTOS: Houston Ship Channel barge collision
KTRK Photo
The collision caused a rupture on one of the barges which was carrying one million gallons of petroleum naphtha. That barge caught on fire. An HFD fire boat worked to put out the flames.
 The US Coast Guard says its too early to know how much of the product spilled, if any, and what impact it may have on wildlife. The Ship Chanel on the Bolivar side to mile 348 is currently closed.
 Petroleum naphtha is a colorless liquid with a gasoline or kerosene-like odor. It can cause irritation to your eyes, nose and throat, plus dizziness, drowsiness, headache and nausea. There are no injuries reported at this time.
The last major barge collision in the ship channel was in March of 2014. The barge was being towed from Texas City to Bolivar when the 585-foot ship Summer Wind collided with the barge. The crash caused nearly 168,000 gallons of thick, tarry fuel oil to spill into the water.
Keep checking back on this page to get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To get alerts for breaking news, download the ABC-13 news app for iPhone or Android. You can also get breaking news alerts sent to you by email. Related Topics:
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