The blaze broke out at Intercontinental Terminals’ bulk liquid storage facility in La Porte on March 17.
Portions of the Houston Ship Channel had been closed due to a fire that broke out more than a week ago at a bulk liquid storage facility in La Porte, Texas, but it appears operations are gradually returning to normal.
The fire at Intercontinental Terminals Co. LLC’s (ITC) facility was reported at 10:22 a.m. March 17. As of 3 a.m. Wednesday, firefighting crews were reporting that all tank fires had been extinguished, but due to steam and smoke, the possibility for reigniting still existed.
At about 12:15 p.m. Friday, there was a partial breach of a secondary containment wall at the tank farm, and as a result, the U.S. Coast Guard closed a portion of the Houston Ship Channel between Tucker Bayou and the San Jacinto Monument to Crystal Bay. “Due to the breach, there was a release of product causing a localized elevation in volatile organic compounds,” ITC said. The containment wall was secured at 4 a.m. Saturday.
“The Coast Guard captain of the port has opened the San Jacinto River for a period of time to allow vessel traffic through the channel on Sunday between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Monday between 9 a.m. and noon,” according to ITC’s latest notice that was posted earlier Monday. “The Houston Ship Channel remains closed to traffic between Tucker’s Bayou and HSC Light 116 and closed for cargo operations from HSC Light 139 to HSC Light 129.”
However, a Coast Guard spokesperson told American Shipper that as of Monday morning, those closed portions have been opened to daylight operations with a limited number of transits for inbound tows and outbound ships.
The Houston Chronicle also said, “As of Monday morning, the Houston pilots reported 31 ships waiting to move into or past the affected area, and 31 ships were waiting to depart. One ship was waiting to move within the harbor.”