A large ship filled with badly decaying oil has been spotted drifting off the coast of Houston. The 110,000-ton vessel is being towed so it can be cleared off by shippers and removed from the water.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the tanker was on Sunday found at a depth of about 120 feet about 50 miles off the coast of the Houston Ship Channel. The ship, owned by Akado Shipping Co. Ltd., was carrying ultra-low-sulfur diesel oil.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Adrian Newman said officials were not sure what brought the ship to Houston, but there is a “major amount of petroleum in this ship.”
“We don’t know if it’s breached or if the cargo is lagging. There’s a lot of unknowns in this vessel right now,” he told the Houston Chronicle.
There have been dozens of incidents along the gulf coast this year, including heavy water crushes of tanks and spills of oil, saltwater and other liquids from large vessels.
The Houston Ship Channel closed to large vessels at 3 a.m. Sunday following five large spills and spills of oil and liquid hazardous material and abandoned vessels, according to the Coast Guard. The closure caused significant delays to Houston-area oil refineries and the refineries along the Mississippi River.
The 12,000-square-mile shipping channel is a major feeder for both crude oil and refined products — from refineries and transport terminals along the Gulf Coast to consumer markets and foreign destinations.