Officials have released radio transmissions regarding one of the collisions that were responsible for the closing of the Houston Ship Channel earlier in March.
When you put on the tape and start listening to the recording the first thing you are going to hear is how the ships’ pilots are receiving warning regarding dense fog conditions. Approximately 5 minutes later the audio clearly indicates how the pilots have panicked in an effort to avoid the already imminent collision.
During the collision itself, the radio remains silent as neither pilot says anything.
The Carla Maersk vessel’s port cargo tanks had sustained some level of damage and as a result began leaking MTBE (a chemical used as a fuel additive in gasoline). The ship was reportedly transporting a cargo of 216,000 barrels of the substance, which had been loaded at the Texas Petro Chemical Plant.
According to EPA’s website MTBE, which is typically used in order to prevent a knocking noise that occurs in the engine of the vessel, has a similar smell to that of a paint thinner and is highly flammable. It can reportedly be the cause for nausea, dizziness and may inflict breathing strain if inhaled.
As a result of the collision an unknown amount of the chemical spilled into the ship channel which in turn resulted in the closing of the channel for several days.
The crash in question was the 2nd in the area in less than a week’s time. Merely a couple of days earlier, a container ship collided with a tanker. There were, however, no reports regarding any spillages.