Port of Houston Authority outlines weekend hours, safety protocol at Barbour's Cut

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Friday, March 13, 2015

Two freight terminals at the Port of Houston that were closed for much of the week due to a potentially toxic chemical spill are expected to remain open throughout the weekend.

The Barbour’s Cut Container Terminal and the AMP Terminals will operate extended hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 13-15.

Both terminals were shut down for several days following a crash between two ships in the Houston Shipping Channel that resulted in a chemical spill.

According to an email obtained by Land Line, the APM Terminal will remain open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, with all cut-offs scheduled for 5:45 p.m. The Barbour’s Cut terminal in-gate will close at 6 p.m., with the out-gate scheduled to close at 7 p.m. Friday.

Both terminals will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday, with the APM terminal closing for lunch from noon to 1 p.m., and all cut-offs scheduled for 5:45 p.m. The APM terminal will close at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Barbour’s Cut will be open on Saturday at 9 a.m. The in-gate will close at 5 p.m., and the out-gate will close at 6 p.m. On Sunday, the terminal will open at 8 a.m., with the in-gate to close at 4 p.m. and the out-gate to close at 5 p.m. The APM terminal will not be open on Sunday.

Normal business hours are expected to resume on Monday, March 16.

The initial spill following the collision on Monday resulted in a shelter-in-place procedure for truckers and other personnel at the port Monday. 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.

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