The Coast Guard on Thursday closed the Port of Mobile's shipping channel because of a heavy crude oil spill, preventing several vessels from leaving the port.
The spill at Gulf Coast Asphalt, a private terminal across the Mobile River from the Alabama State Port Authority docks, occurred early morning Thursday when one of the tanks failed during the transfer of fuel, said Coast Guard spokesman Capt. John Edwards. A berm surrounding the tank contained much of the spilled fuel, but some ran into a ditch leading to the river.
The amount of oil in the channel is unknown. Cleanup crews are working to contain the spill and the Coast Guard will be setting up a decontamination plan, Edwards said. The Coast Guard is investigating the accident.
Two ships headed into port were able to reach the docks Thursday morning, according to port spokeswoman Judith Adams. Don Jameson, general manager of operations at the Mobile Container Terminal, said that there were no vessels at the terminal Thursday and none expected until 6 p.m. Friday, when the CMA CGM White Shark is due.
The channel is closed from mile marker 0 to mile marker 5, or from the Africatown Bridge to the McDuffie Coal Terminal, which is below the port’s container terminal. The Theodore Industrial Ship Channel, below McDuffie Coal Terminal, remains open, the Coast Guard said.