April 8, 2019 / 1:27 AM / 2 months ago

Severe weather adds to ship traffic disruptions at Houston oil port

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday restricted outbound traffic along a portion of the Houston Ship Channel after severe storms halted cleanup operations from last month’s petrochemical fire and chemical spill.

The petrochemical fire at Mitsui & Co’s Intercontinental Terminals Co in Deer Park, Texas, last month damaged or destroyed 11 giant tanks holding millions of gallons of fuels used to make gasoline and plastics.

The storms forced the closure of one site used to check and decontaminate ships moving through areas where fuel was found after the fire.

Operations in the upper portion of the waterway at the nation’s busiest oil port were “significantly reduced” on Sunday, the Coast Guard said.

Outbound traffic was restricted to daylight hours although inbound traffic has continued.

“Unified Command will assess the impacts of the wind and rain early Monday morning to document any product movement and make a plan for the coming week as its operations continue,” said the 2nd 80’s Fire Response Unified Command, a group overseeing the ITC cleanup.

Traffic restrictions previously had disrupted operations at two oil refineries along the channel, which is home to nine refineries and connects Houston to the Gulf of Mexico.

Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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