Exmar suffers gas leak

An Exmar LPG tanker was caught up in a gas leak at the US port of Houston late on Friday night.

US Coast Guard (USCG) and local fire crews responded to the leak of anhydrous ammonia aboard the 38,450-cbm Sombeke (built 2006) at around 21:45 local time.

Four crewmembers aboard the tug Trigger were exposed to the gas and were taken to a local hospital for treatment.

The tug was conducting bunkering operations to refuel the Sombeke, which was transferring the anhydrous ammonia.

“The Sombeke was in the initial cool down phase, preparing to transfer, at the Houston Ammonia Terminal, when a gasket blew and an unknown amount of the anhydrous ammonia was released,” the USCG said.

The incident, which was described by the USCG as “minor”, still resulted in the temporary closure of the Houston Ship Channel.

The USCG vessel traffic service ensured that traffic did not enter the potentially contaminated area during the closure and a safety marine information broadcast was issued to mariners.

A USCG official said a precautionary shelter in place was issued to residents as well as putting the closures in place.

“The hazmat team arrived and was able to determine the leak of an unknown quantity was minor and the shelter in place could be lifted at 23:23,” the USCG said.