Crews hope to finish Ship Channel cleanup today

January 6, 2011 4:11:19 AM PST
The Coast Guard is still cleaning up a spill of animal fat that leaked into the Houston Ship Channel. Some 250,000 gallons of fat leaked out of a tank and about 15,000 gallons made it into the water, forcing the Coast Guard to shut down part of the Ship Channel.

Cleanup crews are back out, trying to get the massive spill of animal fat cleaned up. From SkyEye13, you could see how the 15,000 pounds of animal fat has been contained.

Crews have spent hours using pitch forks and fishing nets to bag the fat, called beef tallow, and throw it away. The substance, which can be used in cosmetics, but mainly soap, leaked out of a ruptured storage tank after an employee with Jacob, Stern and Sons made a mistake.

But a quick response means little environmental impact.

"About the only environmental concern you would have with this is a smothering component if it's allowed to stay on the shoreline for a period of time and that's really about it," said Richard Arnhart with the Texas General Land Office. "Because it's a natural occurring animal fat, typically you'll see fish and seagulls go down and eat this product."

The employee got a concussion during the rupture but is expected to be OK. The company is footing the bill for clean up.

Crews are expected to be finished with cleanup today.