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Houston Ship Channel closed after MBTE spill

Written by Nick Blenkey
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The chemical tanker Carla Maersk sits at anchor off Morgans Point, Texas, after being involved in a collision with the bulk carrier Conti Peridot March 9, 2015. The Carla Maersk was carrying about 216,000 barrels of Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether and an unknown quantity of the product was spilled

MARCH 10, 2015 — A section of the Houston Ship Channel remained closed today following yesterday’s collision at Morgan’s Point between the Carla Maersk, a 600-foot chemical tanker, and the Conti Peridot, a 623-foot bulk carrier, which resulted in a puncture to three of the Carla Maersk’s port tanks. The chemical tanker was carrying approximately 216,000 barrels of Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MBTE) and a spill of an unknown quantity of MTBE resulted.

Federal, state and local agencies and responders are working to ensure public safety as they respond.

The unified command determined that the Barbours Cut Terminal would not open as normally scheduled at 7 a.m. today, as a precautionary measure. Air quality monitoring has determined that fumes are present, but they are below toxic levels. Residents in the affected areas are urged to monitor local emergency notification systems (Cities of Baytown, La Porte, Morgan’s Point), for information on local impacts and instruction. Air monitoring is currently taking place throughout the area and is being facilitated by local jurisdictions.

The Houston Ship Channel has been closed to all traffic from light 86 to the Fred Hartman Bridge. As of this morning there were 26 ships waiting to come inbound to Houston and 14 waiting to leave. The Coast Guard says it is working to help ensure that the remaining product in the ship is safely secured in order to begin reopening the ship channel.

A safety zone has been established from the Fred Hartman Bridge to light 86 on the Houston Ship Channel and includes Goose Creek, Tabbs Bay, Cedar Bayou Channel and Barbours Cut.

The cause of the collision is under investigation.

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