Nearly two months after a deadly explosion killed two crewmembers aboard a barge off the coast of Port Aransas, Texas, officials with the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies gathered to discuss their response to the tragedy.
“Whether it’s tug and towing companies, whether it’s the barge companies, whether it’s the Coast Guard, whether it’s the Port, whether it’s the Port police, all those folks are here to kind of share their experiences,” Zachary Pickett, Port Preparedness Planner with the U.S. Coast Guard, said during the December 11th meeting in Corpus Christi.
One Crewmember Remains Missing
The explosion aboard the Bouchard Transportation oil barge occurred around 4:30 a.m. on Friday, October 20th. The vessel was being towed by the Buster Bouchard, which at the time was pulling up anchor about 3 miles from shore.
Two of the vessel’s eight crew were reported unaccounted for after the incident.
The remains of Dujour Vanterpool, 26, of Houston, were discovered the following Monday, about six miles south of the Malaquite Pavilion in the Padre Island National Seashore.
Zachariah Jackson, 28, of Salt Lake City, remains missing and is presumed dead.
The remaining crew escaped the burning barge without injury.
Responders from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Port of Corpus Christi were able to extinguish the resulting fire by Friday evening.
Cause of Explosion Remains Under Investigation
Monday afternoon’s meeting was intended to provide the Coast Guard and other agencies with a forum to address the aspects of the response that went well, as well as the areas that could be improved.
“We had great communications, we did pretty well on responding to the oil pollution as well too, but there are many things we can probably do better,” Pickett said.
The barge remains in a secure facility in the Port of Corpus Christi, while the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board work to determine the cause of the explosion.
“The barge is still being looked at, and it’s still being investigated, because we want to make sure that the tragic loss of those two lives never occur again,” Pickett said.
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