A shipping channel and two freight terminals at the Port of Houston reopened Thursday after having been shut down since Monday following a collision between two ships that resulted in a chemical spill.
The initial spill following the collision on Monday resulted in a shelter-in-place procedure for truckers and other personnel at the port yesterday. The crash and spill shut down all port operations for Monday.
The spill occurred following a crash between the tanker Carla Maersk and a Liberian bulk carrier, the Conti Peridot. The Venezuela-bound Carla Maersk was reportedly carrying about 216,000 barrels of MTBE, a chemical additive found in gasoline. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, is a chemical compound used almost exclusively as a fuel additive in gasoline.
The Port of Houston Authority also announced air monitoring stations have been set up along the docks at the Barbour’s Cut Container Terminal, to monitor air quality for MTBE particles, which can be harmful if inhaled in excessive amounts. According to the port authority, the air quality level of concern is 50 ppm (parts-per-million). The port authority also notes that because humans can detect MTBE at concentrations of as little as 2 ppm, “there is a chance one might smell an odor” according to a bulletin posted on the agency’s website.
The two terminals – one operated by APM and the other by Port of Houston – are expected to remain open until 7 p.m. Thursday. The APM terminal is also expected to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, according to an email Land Line received from Clark Freight, a motor carrier that works in the Houston ports. The email states that the terminal will also be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, but will close for lunch. The Barbour’s Cut terminal operated by Port of Houston Authority has not announced late hours or Saturday hours as of Thursday morning.
The port authority also announced all storage will be extended by 3 days. All other Port Authority Terminals, including the Bayport Container Terminal and the Cruise terminal, are continuing to operate under normal business hours.
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