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Magellan Gasoline Spill in Houston Shipping Channel Larger Than First Reported

 

Tulsa-based Magellan Midstream is dealing with a nearly 500,000 gallon gasoline spill from two storage tanks along the Houston Ship Channel, the largest such spill resulting from Hurricane Harvey. The company confirmed the spill first reported last month was far larger than initially believed.

Reports indicate the spill measure 10,988 barrels or more than 461,000 gallons. It happened at a petroleum tank farm in Galena Park. Experts say fortunately since gasoline is more volatile than oil, much of it will likely evaporate. However, it is also a potential fire hazard.

Some of the gasoline flowed into a waterway adjacent to the ship channel. But Bruce Heine, a spokesman for Magellan said the gasoline had been contained and sprayed with foam to prevent it from releasing harmful vapors.

“Federal and state regulators have been on-site during the recovery and clean-up procedures,” Heine said. “Clean-up activities at the facility are continuing and we are currently removing and replacing affected soil.”

The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating the incident but said it was unaware of any environmental damage. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is also investigating. Reports indicate the state is verifying whether Magellan had followed its operating permit and state rules that require a company to disclose any air pollution emitted by the spilled gasoline.

Environmentalists were upset over the spill and how it was handled.

 

“They ought to know exactly how much gasoline was spilled, where it is now, how the state is containing it, and whether they should worry about any ongoing public health threats,” said Kara Cook-Schultz with the advocacy group TexPIRG.

The spill was first reported to state and federal officials on Aug. 31, but no volume was given at that time. The company later that day reported the spill was 1,000 barrels. In a report filed last week and released Monday, Magellan put the spill more than 10 times higher at 10,988 barrels. That’s equivalent to the combined volume of about 51 tanker trucks used to deliver gasoline to service stations.

Heine said state and federal regulators had been notified promptly of the company’s best assessments of the volume.

The Associated Press has identified more than two dozen spills from fuel and chemical tanks that failed during Harvey. At least 14 tanks failed when their roofs sank under the weight of Harvey’s unprecedented rainfall. Others were swept away by floodwaters.