U.S. Coast Guard officials are still investigating that chemical leak from a ship moored at Citgo. We took a boat ride to the scene with the Coast Guard to find out the latest.
They don't know how much leaked out or what caused it. But Coast Guard officials are satisfied the xylene leak at Citgo Dock D never posed a major threat to people or the environment.
The leak was reported as a solvent release in the Calcasieu Ship Channel south of the I-210 Bridge in Lake Charles. Turns out it was xylene coming from a ship: the Chembulk New Orleans.
Robert Compher is the commanding officer of the Coast Guard's Lake Charles Marine Safety Unit."We received notification from Citgo that as they were loading the Chembulk New Orleans, a tanker that was at their facility, they noticed a product bubbling up while they were loading. So they immediately stopped the spill, contained the source, put boom around it. Immediately started air monitoring and get the response resources out there."
Right up here next to the ship they've got boom all around it. You really can't see a sheen or any indication of the spill on the water. An environmental contractor was on scene but Compher admits, as light as xylene is, it's not the kind stuff you can scoop up off the water. "It is volatile so once it is on the water it tends to evaporate rather quickly, which certainly helps out in a response like this. Once we get it contained it tends to evaporate rather quickly, especially on a sunny day like this."
Compher says within twelve or thirteen hours the leak was stopped. He says there was never any indication of immediate health risks. "Once we had it contained, Citgo had air monitors right there on the pier and on the vessel and they were constantly monitoring air levels and never registered any significant threat to any of the responders out on scene or the men and women that work in industry and live in that area."
Coast Guard Officials say they are still investigating the cause of the leak and whether there should be penalties. Traffic in the channel was limited to commercial vessels on a case-by-case basis but it's now open.
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