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Tule Lake Channel Fire

TCEQ conducted air quality monitoring and water sampling in Corpus Christi following a barge collision with a pipeline. The collision caused an explosion and fire in Tule Lake Channel near Nueces Bay.

Important information Tule Lake Channel Fire News Release (posted 8-21-2020)

Air Monitoring

TCEQ began air monitoring activities Aug. 21 and continued through late Aug. 22. Staff and contractors with handheld air monitors conducted air quality surveys in the surrounding neighborhoods, and downwind of the incident. TCEQ also mobilized its Rapid Assessment Survey Van, conducting surveys along the Joe Fulton Corridor and the north side of the Nueces Bay.

All reports from late Friday through early Saturday, both from handheld monitors and from the Rapid Assessment Survey van, yielded no detections of concern for volatile organic compounds, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, or sulfur dioxide. There were slight detections of carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide late Saturday. While the values were higher than typically found, they are transient in nature and not a cause for immediate health concern.

Air monitoring ceased at approximately 5 p.m. on Aug. 22, with concurrence from Incident Command. As of Aug. 22, the State On-Scene Coordinator transitioned from TCEQ to the General Land Office (GLO).

Water Monitoring

TCEQ has received surface water quality data from samples collected on Aug. 26 and 28, 2020. None of the constituents exceeded protective concentration levels for surface water.

TCEQ is planning to replicate the sampling once the dredge is removed—sometime within the next few weeks—and also sample the water where the dredge sank for constituents of concern. The Department of State Health Services plans to be onsite when recovery operations begin.

TCEQ has two routine monitoring sites in the Corpus Christi Inner Harbor, one upstream of the incident, the other site downstream. One station is located approximately 0.4 kilometers east of the Navigation Boulevard draw bridge, the other in the Viola Turning Basin.

The next routine sampling event at these locations will be conducted in September or October for field measurements, routine water chemistry, and bacterial analyses.

As of Aug. 27, approximately 9,800 gallons of a hydrocarbon/water mixture has been recovered, of which 3,600 gallons is estimated to be hydrocarbons. No additional liquids have been recovered since.

Incident Command has demobilized from the Solomon P. Ortiz International Center. Cleanup and salvage operations are still underway.

TCEQ has received preliminary surface water quality data from samples collected on Aug. 24 and 25. None of the constituents exceeded protective concentration levels for surface water.

TCEQ staff also collected water samples in the Corpus Christi Inner Harbor on Aug. 26 and again on 28.

If water sample results continue to stay below protective concentration levels, sampling will be conducted on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday basis. If the situation dictates, sampling may be conducted at any time.

As of Aug. 26, approximately 9,300 gallons of a hydrocarbon/water mixture was recovered by the responsible party, of which 3,600 gallons is estimated to be hydrocarbons. Approximately 145 bags of contaminated absorbent material have also been generated during the cleanup process. Recovery of the hydrocarbons continues.

On Aug. 26, the Texas General Land Office worked with the responsible party to stop a slow leak from a 500-gallon diesel tank on top of the tender barge.

The cause of the incident is being investigated by the National Traffic Safety Board and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Any evidence recovered is being reported to Incident Command.

Salvage operations continue to work on plugging the vents on the fuel tanks. Other portions of the dredge exhaust stack and wheelhouse have been recovered.

TCEQ received preliminary surface water quality data for 53 constituents from samples collected on Aug. 23 at four different sites within the Corpus Christi Inner Harbor. An analysis indicates the constituents consist of organics and total petroleum hydrocarbons.

None of the constituents exceeded protective concentration levels for surface water.