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San Jacinto River Spill; Channelview, Texas

Channelview, Texas | 1994-Oct-20

Initial Notification: Between October 18 and 20, a strong low-pressure system stalled over the Houston area producing more than 30 inches of rain. The San Jacinto River rose from its normal height of 2.5 feet to 24.3 feet. The river overtopped its banks, cutoff a meandering loop, and scoured a new channel through a normally dry area containing pipelines. As a result of the flooding, Houston had been declared a National Disaster Area and the estuarine environments of Galveston Bay were stressed because of the influx of fresh floodwaters. As the flood waters began to recede, pipelines began to rupture. It was surmised that large debris or some barges had broken free and were caught in the high-river currents and collided with the pipelines, causing four of them to rupture. It is also possible that the new channel cut by the flooded river may have undercut the pipeline supports, which were not designed for water crossing. The ruptured pipelines contained gasoline, crude oil, heating oil, and natural gas. Within hours of the ruptures, the spilled products ignited and, already caught up in the flood waters, become a burning mass moving downstream. The fires destroyed many homes along the river banks. However, as a result of the fire much of the spilled products were consumed. After some time, the fire continued only at the source of the leaks. The natural gas leak stopped, but a combination of the remaining products continued to leak. USCG district 8. Keyword: bioremediation, containment boom, Corexit 9580, in-situ burning, skimmers, sorbent boom, sorbent pompoms, vacuum trucks.

Incident Details
Products of concern:gasoline, home heating oil, Arabian crude, and natural gas
Latitude (approximate): 29° 48.50′ North
Longitude (approximate): 95° 4.00′ West
On-Water Recovery: Unknown/Not applicable
Shoreline Cleanup: Unknown/Not applicable
Dispersants: Unknown/Not applicable
In-Situ Burn: Applied
Bioremediation: Applied