January 24, 2010 / 5:33 AM / 10 years ago

Tanker collision sends oil into Texas waterway

The Eagle Otome and another barge are seen after they collided in Port Arthur, Texas, in this handout photograph taken and released on January 23, 2010. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Handout

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A barge collided with a tanker on Saturday in the port of Port Arthur, Texas, sending thousands of gallons of crude oil into the water, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The tanker was carrying crude oil to Exxon Mobil Corp’s refinery in Beaumont, Texas, located north of Port Arthur. The waterway, through which tankers carry oil to four refineries in Port Arthur and Beaumont, Texas, remained shut on Saturday night.

A 15-foot-by-8-foot (4.6 meter-by-2.4-meter) hole was torn in the side of the 807-foot (246-meter) tanker Eagle Otome in the collision with a barge being moved in the port, the Coast Guard said. No injuries were reported due to the crash.

Vapors from the estimated 450,000 gallons of spilled crude oil triggered warnings of a hydrogen sulfide release near the port where three refineries are located, leading authorities to recommend nearby residents leave their homes.

“I think about 12 people went to the shelter,” said Port Arthur Police Chief Mark Blanton. “The vapors quickly dissipated.”

The crude oil spill was being contained by booms put out by state and federal environmental agencies.

The remaining crude oil on the Eagle Otome will be loaded on another ship and the tanker will be moved out of the waterway by early next week.

Refineries in Port Arthur and Beaumont have a combined refining capacity of 1.15 million barrels, equal to about 6.5 cent of the total U.S. capacity.

None of the refineries in Port Arthur and Beaumont have reported problems since the waterway was closed. Refineries store significant amounts of crude oil in giant tanks on their grounds.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Will Dunham

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