Friday, January 14, 2011

Houston Ship Channel Closed After Animal-Fat Spill

4th NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

From WSJ

by Ryan Dezember

HOUSTON—The U.S. Coast Guard expects to rid the Houston Ship Channel of thousands of gallons of spilled animal fat by late Wednesday or early Thursday, an agency spokesman said.

Some 250,000 gallons of beef tallow leaked on early Tuesday evening from ruptured storage tank owned by Jacob Stern & Sons Inc., a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based agricultural products company. About 15,000 gallons of the beef fat ended up on the Houston Ship Channel via a storm drain, causing the closure of a small portion of the waterway. The Coast Guard said it is still investigating the cause of the spill.

The spill and the ensuing closure occurred near the northern end of the channel, and have no impact on tanker traffic. But bad weather caused ship traffic delays on Wednesday.

The Coast Guard hired a local company to clean up the fat from the waterway. The agency said that six boats are at the scene, corralling the coagulated fat with boom. The spill is expected to have minimal environmental impact, the Coast Guard said.

"Luckily the stuff is easy to clean up," Mr. Brahm said. "It solidifies at room temperature, so as soon as it hit the water it just kind of sat there."

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