Ammonia Leak Forces Closure Of Houston Ship Channel

HOUSTON (July 26, 2014) Anhydrous ammonia that leaked from a vessel forced the closure of the Houston Ship Channel and nearby bridges and sent four workers to a hospital Friday evening, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The tanker Sombeke was docked at the Houston Ammonia Terminal Friday evening when a gasket blew and anhydrous ammonia leaked, the Coast Guard said

The tugboat Trigger was refueling the Sombeke when the leak occurred and four of its crewmembers were exposed and required hospitalization.

They were later released.

The closure of the channel as well as the Interstate 610 and Beltway 8 bridges lasted for about 90 minutes.

Authorities warned nearby residents to remain in their homes.

A hazardous materials team determined the leak was "minor."

Anhydrous ammonia is a pungent gas that's used as a fertilizer.