Ships Collide in Houston Channel, Chemical Leak


On Monday afternoon, two ships, the Carla Maersk and the Conti Peridot, collided in the Houston Ship Channel near Morgan’s Point. The Carla Maersk, a chemical tanker, was outbound headed for the Amuay Bay in Venezuela, while the Conti Peridot, a bulk carrier, was heading for the Houston port.

The Carla Maersk, which was carrying 216,000 gallons of MTBE, suffered a breach in one of its three tanks and began leaking the caustic substance. MTBE is a flammable, volatile and colorless liquid used as a fuel additive and raises additional concerns because of it limited solubility in water.

U.S. Coast Guard Captain Brian Penoyer, commander of the Houston-Galveston Coast Guard District, says that crews are examining the vessel’s tanks to determine how much of the chemical may have been spilt. The leak was stopped about 90 minutes after the Coast Guard received word of the collision.

The Coast Guard has stated that it does not consider the spill to be significant and that the area is contained.

Two dock workers have been taken to a local hospital after being overcome by fumes.

The cause of the accident is unknown, but there were reports of fog in the area.

It is the second collision to have occurred in the channel in the last few days. Last Thursday a tanker carrying lube oil and a container ship collided, however there were no injuries or pollution reported.