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Coast Guard examines response to barge explosion - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

Coast Guard examines response to barge explosion

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The Coast Guard and their Port partners discussed the response to October's barge explosion, including what went well and what could be improved. The Coast Guard and their Port partners discussed the response to October's barge explosion, including what went well and what could be improved.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation by the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board. The cause of the explosion remains under investigation by the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board.
CORPUS CHRISTI -

It has been nearly two months since a barge exploded just off the coast of Port Aransas. Two crew men died, and thousands of gallons of crude oil were spilled into the gulf.

This afternoon, local Coast Guard officials got together to talk about their response: what worked and what could have been improved.

"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.

Although the Coast Guard is still investigating the cause of that barge explosion, today they also put the first responders joint response under examination. Participants at the meeting shared what went well and what they would change. 

"We had great communications, we did pretty well on responding to the oil pollution as well to,  but there are many things we can probably do better," Pickett said. 

Pickett said there were a number of lessons learned, but the key trend was that everyone was reminded that response readiness is much more than a plan: it is about continual planning, training, exercising, resources, and communication. 

Part of that effort for continuous improvement is seen in a firefighting team made up of the Coast Guard and its Port partners, which is now leading the way to make sure first responders are ready for marine fires. 

"It requires planning, it requires training, it requires exercising, it requires equipping," Pickett said. 

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board continue a joint investigation into the cause of the explosion, hoping to prevent a repeat of the tragic situation. 

"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. 

As the barge explosion remains under investigation, the barge itself is docked at a secure location in the Port of Corpus Christi.

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