The U.S. Coast Guard is monitoring the air quality in Morgan's Point, along the Houston Ship Channel, as it investigates the size of the spill of a dangerous chemical into the water.
"It's kind of like a varnish smell," says Michael Fisco, a neighbor who is under the shelter in place order, issued by the Coast Guard.
The port was shut down initially, and the Barbour's Cut Terminal remains closed. It could remain shut down for several days. Captain Brian Penoyer says, "MTBE is both a flammability and a toxicity risk. Our immediate response efforts have focused on controlling the risk of fire and explosion from those vapors, and further focused on protecting human health."
The Carla Maersk, is the Danish Tanker that was carrying 216,000 barrels of Methyl tert butyl ether. It's an additive that's used to raise the octane in gasoline. It is producing a smell because even though it is in liquid form, it vaporizes easily. In liquid form, it's considered a hazard to wildlife and humans.
No one was injured when the Carla Maersk collided with the Liberian Conti Peridot.
The leak is said to be contained but how long it will take to remove the chemical from the affected area is in question, as is what caused the collision. It's the second one in less than a week, but last Thursday's collision caused no major damage and only blocked traffic for a short time.