Barbours Cut Terminal – Houston’s largest container terminal – remains closed until further notice after a bulk carrier and tanker collided earlier this week. The terminal was closed as a precautionary measure after an unknown quantity of methyl tertiary butyl ether spilled as a result of the collision.
Port officials advise goods are being unloaded and commerce traded along the rest of Houston Ship Channel (including Bayport Container Terminal) amid cleanup efforts. About a 4-mile to 8-mile stretch of the ship channel is closed as crews deal with a gasoline additive that spilled after two ships collided on Monday in foggy conditions. The Carla Maersk, a 600-foot tanker, was hauling roughly 216,000 gallons of the gasoline additive when it collided with the Condi Peridot, a 623-foot bulk carrier. The cause of the collision has not been determined. The closure affects vessels trying to enter or depart via the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. Coast Guard and port officials said Tuesday even though efforts to clean up the Port of Houston after the collision were expected to take at least several days, various cargo terminals, a grain elevator and a dry bulk export/import facility north of the cleanup are operating and it’s “business as usual” at the ports in Texas City and Galveston, located south of the ship channel.
The Coast Guard on Wednesday began efforts to remove the ship that carried the gasoline additive. Work crews were set to first safely remove any remaining chemical from the ship’s cargo tanks before moving the vessel. The other ship was moved to a dock on Tuesday. Officials said workers have conducted more than 500 air and water tests, all of which show no public health or environmental concerns at this time. MTBE is highly flammable and can be dangerous to people if inhaled in high doses.
RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates once available.