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NTSB launches go-team to vessel collision in Houston Ship Channel

​The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a go-team to investigate Monday’s accident in the Houston Ship Channel involving the bulk carrier MV Conti Peridot and the tanker Carla Maersk.

A portion of the Houston Ship Channel remained shut down early Tuesday after two 600-foot ships collided during foggy conditions a day earlier, causing some leakage of a flammable liquid.

The USCG said a gasoline additive aboard a chemical tanker was no longer leaking methyl tert-butyl ether — or MTBE. 

Petty Officer Andy Kendrick said that the Liberian bulk carrier Conti Peridot had been moved from the collision site but that the Danish-flagged Carla Maersk would remain in the channel until decisions are made about what to do with its chemical cargo.

No injuries were reported from the collision, and the immediate area remains closed, including the Barbours Cut Terminal, where cargo vessels are loaded and unloaded.

Three cargo tanks on the tanker were ruptured, releasing an unknown quantity of the water-soluble, flammable gasoline additive, said Coast Guard Capt. Brian Penoyer, commander of the Houston-Galveston Coast Guard District.

Crews were examining the vessel's tanks to determine how much of the product spilled into the 50-mile channel that connects the Gulf of Mexico to the Port of Houston. It was carrying approximately 216,000 barrels of MTBE before the collision, according to the Coast Guard.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency describes MTBE as a volatile, flammable and colorless liquid that dissolved rather easily in water. It's used to raise the oxygen content of gasoline.

The Coast Guard said in a statement late Monday night that air-quality monitoring had determined that fumes were present but they were below toxic levels.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Manda Emery said it was too soon to blame rain and fog for the collision.

It was the second ship collision in the channel in less than a week. No pollution and no injuries were reported last Thursday when a 445-foot tanker and 892-foot container ship bumped about 15 miles up the channel from Galveston.



Image: USCG


March 2015
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