LA PORTE, Texas – For the second time in a week, there was a collision in the Houston Ship Channel.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, two large ships collided in foggy conditions just after
12:30 p.m. near Morgan’s Point.
At that time, the Conti Peridot, bulk carrier, and the Carla Maersk, a chemical tanker, collided.
However, the Carla Maersk was carrying 216,000 barrels of the gasoline additive MTBE, which began spilling into the water.
Responders were able to stop the spilling by 3:30 p.m., and are now trying to determine how much was spilled into the channel.
An incident command center has been set up at City Hall in Morgan’s Point, where about 300 residents are being told to shelter in place.
There is still a strong odor of gasoline in the air. MTBE is flammable, causes dizziness and suffocation.
The ship channel is closed in both directions. Local officials of course checking on exposure issues.
The USCG says it has “air mobilizing” teams on the coast looking for the presence of the chemical.
“This chemical, when it’s in liquid form will float on water and is toxic to both people and wildlife – you will smell this chemical long before you reach toxic levels and we encourage anyone on the water to stay away from areas where you can smell this,” USCG officials said.
The USCG says this was a significant collision on the ship channel, but they do not consider this a significant spill.
They would not say how much of this chemical spilled into the water, but they believe they have the area contained.
No injuries were reported except for two dock workers, who were transported to a local hospital after being overcome by fumes.
Both ships involved are anchored.
No word on when the shelter-in-place will be lifted.
This was the second collision in this ship channel within the past week. On Thursday, a cargo ship and an oil tanker collided.
While it clogged up traffic for a while, nothing spilled. The damage to both vessels was minimal.
It’s not clear what caused that collision.