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Pipeline explosion in Texas leaves two dead, two missing, and six injured

24 August 2020

A pipeline explosion in Corpus Christi on the southern Texas coast killed two people and injured six others on August 21. A further two people remain missing after a dredging vessel ruptured a submerged natural gas pipeline in the Port of Corpus Christi.

Image: US Coast Guard
Image: US Coast Guard

After accidentally rupturing the pipeline, an explosion occurred resulting in the dredging vessel – named the Waymon L. Boyd – being engulfed in flames, the US Coast Guard said. Two crewmembers of the Waymon L Boyd were rescued by the Coast Guard while the bodies of two other crewmembers were recovered the following day on August 22.

The Coast Guard was informed of a fire in the Port of Corpus Christi Ship Channel at 08:12 local time and attended the scene with support of a helicopter which hoisted two injured crewmembers to safety. Six people in total were injured with several taken to local hospital with burns. Those who died in the incident are yet to be publicly identified. 

Following a comprehensive search on August 22 for the two missing crewmembers, the US Coast Guard announced that the search had been suspended. 

“The Captain of the Port has reopened the Corpus Christi Ship Channel with certain restrictions from Chemical Basin to Viola Basin," said Sean Strawbridge, CEO, Port of Corpus Christi. "While the search and rescue mission for the lost crewmen of the Waymon L. Boyd has concluded, the suffering of the injured crew members and the families of those lost still endures. Our heartfelt prayers are with them all. 

“The Port of Corpus Christi and the Incident Management Team continues the recovery and salvage of the vessel in partnership with Orion Marine Group, and we thank the Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas General Land Office as well as our local, state and federal elected officials for their leadership during this tragic incident,” Strawbridge added.

Image: US Coast Guard
Image: US Coast Guard

A joint investigation has been opened by the US Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board.

After the initial fire on the Waymon L. Boyd was extinguished on August 21, it reignited later that evening before the vessel sunk. The Coast Guard began salvage operations on August 23 to remove part of the vessel from the port’s shipping lane. 

A statement from the Coast Guard said that the Texas General Land Office, state lead for coastal oil spill response, was at the scene and was working to identify and protect Texas natural resources and ensure the spill was contained. Approximately 1,600 gallons of diesel fuel was been removed from the water and 680 gallons of diesel fuel/water was skimmed.

The Port of Corpus Christi is located on Corpus Christi Bay in the western Gulf of Mexico and processes over 80 million tonnes of cargo from over 6,000 ships annually.

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