A collision between the 600' chemical tanker Carla Maersk and the 623' bulk carrier Conti Peridot at Morgan’s Point in the Houston Ship Channel has resulted in the closure of a portion of the waterway. The accident, which punctured three of the bulk carrier’s port tanks, occurred about 12:40 Monday afternoon. The collision resulted in an undetermined amount of the bulk carrier’s 216,000 bbls. of Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) entering the ship channel, according to the unified command that has been established at the City of La Porte Emergency Operations Center.

Federal, state and local agencies and responders are on the scene. As of Tuesday morning, the Houston Ship Channel remained closed to all traffic from light 86 to the Fred Hartman Bridge. There are 26 ships waiting to come inbound to Houston and 14 waiting to leave. The Coast Guard is working to help ensure that the remaining product in the ship is safely secured in order to begin reopening the ship channel.

The normally very busy Barbours Cut Terminal was not opened as scheduled at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, as a precautionary measure. Air quality monitoring has determined that fumes are present, but they are below toxic levels. Experts urged residents in the affected areas to monitor local emergency notification systems for information on local impacts and instruction. Air monitoring is currently taking place throughout the area and is being facilitated by local jurisdictions.

Rain and fog were present when the collision occurred. The cause of the collision is under investigation.

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.