About an hour ago, the Unified Command held a press conference at the La Porte Emergency Operations Center to update industry and the public on response efforts following yesterday’s collision of the M/V Carla Maersk and Conti Peridot. Captain Brian Penoyer, Sector Houston-Galveston Incident Commander spoke at length regarding the work underway to protect the public from potential hazards.
“At first light this morning we were able to conduct air reconnaissance looking for any MTBE that has reached the water. With the single exception of a trace release from the damaged area of the hull on the Carla Maersk, we were unable to locate any evidence of sheen on the water.”
He also reported that there had been no measurable traces of vapors on the shoreline since sampling begun at 11:30 last night.
While the vessel was carrying 216,000 barrels of MTBE, Captain Penoyer reported that only two cargo tanks were impacted; the wing tanks (voids/ballast) outside of the cargo tanks appear to have absorbed most of the impact of the collision. “As a result, it gave the crew the critical time they needed to transfer cargo to other tanks on board.”
Regarding the resumption of commerce and trade, Captain Penoyer explained that his first priority was public safety and health. “I’d like to have an estimate that would be helpful, but we have to proceed step by step (with the response)… candidly, it has to be that way until we’ve secured the vapor. At that point we can talk about reasonable estimates to resuming commerce. I would say that certainly we are not talking about hours to a day, we need to recognize that this is an enormously complex salvage operation; in some cases we are talking about specifically configuring firefighting and salvage capability to do this job, so it’s not something that’s going to happen in minutes or even a day, but it’s certainly something that will begin today.”
As a reminder, the safety zone where vessels are restricted from movement extends from Light 86 to the Fred Hartman Bridge. CPB has issued a blanket extension to departure timeframes of 48 hours, which may be adjusted as needed if the closure remains in effect.
The Port Bureau has an audio file of the press conference at: HERE
In addition raw video from the Coast Guard initial inspection may be found here: https://www.youtube.com/
We will continue to keep you updated as more information comes in.