Harris County News

15 Apr 2019

ITC Faces Added Costs for March Fire & Spill

File Image:  An aerial view of the Houston Refining complex and ship channel / CREDIT: AdobeStock / © Irina K

The costs of a massive fire and chemical spill at a Houston petrochemical facility have begun trickling out, with a local official on Monday estimating emergency response costs at $800,000 for the first two weeks of the disaster alone.A blaze at Mitsui & Co Ltd's Intercontinental Terminals Co (ITC) petrochemical facility in Deer Park, Texas, last month released cancer-causing chemicals into the air and waterway that connects Houston to the Gulf of Mexico, disrupting shipping along the nation's busiest oil port.County employees devoted 16…

19 Mar 2019

Air Quality Monitored as TX Tank Blaze Rages

File Image: an aerial view of the port of Houston petrochemical refining complex. CREDIT: AdobeStock / © Irina K

Houston officials and environmental groups raced to expand air monitoring on Tuesday after a raging fire at a Mitsui & Co petrochemical storage site produced billowing acrid smoke that could be seen and smelled miles away.The blaze at Mitsui unit Intercontinental Terminals Co in Deer Park, Texas, burned for a third day after firefighting water pumps broke down for six hours on Monday evening, the company said.The fire began on Sunday when a leaking tank containing volatile naphtha ignited and flames quickly spread to nearby tanks…

27 Sep 2018

Proposed Rate Hikes for Houston Ship Pilots Under Fire

The Houston industrial refining complex (File Image: CREDIT AdobeStock / © Irina K)

No less than 15 shipping companies, many of them top 10 liner companies, have written to Port of Houston Chairman Janice Longoria to reject the latest call for substantial rate hikes on the Houston Ship Channel. Local pilots already earn salaries that approach $500,000 annually.Like any other major U.S. port, registered foreign flag vessels must use a local state pilot on the Houston Ship Channel. According to local shipping stakeholders, the rates for those mandated services have spiraled more than 50% in the past 14 years alone.The rate increase proposal…

30 Aug 2017

Harvey Soaks Louisiana as Houston Struggles With Flooding

Tropical Storm Harvey bore down on Louisiana on Wednesday, pouring down more water after setting rainfall records in Texas that caused catastrophic flooding and paralyzed the U.S. energy hub of Houston. The storm that first came ashore on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years has killed at least 17 people and forced tens of thousands to leave their deluged homes. Damage has been estimated at tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the costliest U.S. natural disasters. There is some relief in sight for Houston, the fourth most populous U.S. city, with forecasters saying five days of torrential rain may come to an end as the storm picks up speed and leaves the Gulf of Mexico region later in the day.

14 Jul 2016

Houston Ship Channel Closed after Benzene Spill

A section of the Houston Ship Channel has been closed following the release of approximately 500 gallons of benzene from the tanker Maritime Jingan while moored at Vopak Terminal Thursday afternoon. The U.S. Coast Guard said it is responding to the incident along with the Harris County Hazardous Material Response Team. At approximately 12 p.m., Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders received a call from Vopak Terminal personnel that benzene had been spilled on the Maritime Jingan and that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department had also been notified. Vessel Traffic Service issued a closure of between the Lynchburg Ferry Crossing and Carpenters Bayou effective at 12:23 p.m. The leak has been secured, and the cause is under investigation.

19 Apr 2016

Man Missing after Tug Capsizes in Houston

The U.S. Coast Guard and Harris County Sheriff Department responders are searching for a missing man after he and four others were sent into the water when their tug flipped over in the San Jacinto river about a half mile south of Interstate 10 in Houston. The missing man was described as being about 5-foot-10-inches tall, 325 pounds, wearing a red shirt, khaki pants and a buoyant work vest. Kirby Inland Marine personnel notified the Coast Guard at 8:11 a.m., just after the tug, Ricky J Leboeuf, capsized at 7:44 a.m. Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders launched an Air Station Houston MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, a Station Houston response boat, coordinated a Harris County Sheriff Department boat and requested a dive team to assist in the search.

06 Mar 2016

Houston Ship Channel Opened After Refinery Explosion

Houston Ship Channel Courtesy Patrick Feller from Humble, Texas

The Coast Guard Captain of the Port has reopened the Houston Ship Channel from Cotton Patch Bayou to Sims Bayou after a precautionary safety zone had been put in place due to an explosion at Pasadena Refining System, Inc., Saturday morning. At 10:30 a.m., a Sector Houston-Galveston watchstander observed smoke rising in the sky over the tree-line outside an office window and coordinated with Vessel Traffic Service Houston-Galveston watchstander's, who observed the smoke coming from the facility and found other responders were already enroute.

25 Oct 2015

Houston Braces for Floods as Texas Deluged by Rain

Hurricane Patricia Image Courtesy NOAA

Heavy rains fueled by the meeting of two strong storm systems, one the remnants of Hurricane Patricia, pounded southeastern Texas on Saturday, triggering flash floods and derailing a freight train as the heavy weather tracked toward Houston. Navarro County, about 50 miles (80 km) south of Dallas, was one of the hardest-hit areas, inundating the tiny town of Powell with 20 inches (50 cm) of rain over 30 hours, according to meteorologist Brett Rathbun of Accuweather. A flash flood was so forceful it swept a Union Pacific freight train off the tracks…

04 Aug 2015

Marad Visits TX Maritime Technology & Training Center

The San Jacinto College Maritime Technology and Training Center will open in January 2016 to become one of the region's only campuses built specifically for mariner training and as a home to the state's first maritime transportation associate degree program. All San Jacinto College maritime training is currently operating out of a facility in Pasadena, Texas. Photo credit: Jeannie Peng-Armao

United States Maritime Administration tours Maritime Technology and Training Center site. Administrators from the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD), along with staff from United States Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, recently visited the construction site of the Maritime Technology and Training Center, where they received a glimpse of one of the region's only waterfront campuses being built specifically for mariner training and as a home to the state's first maritime transportation associate degree program.

11 Nov 2014

Houston Ship Channel Celebrates 100 years

Great Day for Centennial Rededication of Houston Ship Channel

Blue skies and a cool breeze set the stage for a once-in-a-century event today: the 100th anniversary rededication of the opening of Houston's deep-water port. International Longshoremen's Association, Houston Pilots, U.S. Coast Guard, current and former Port Commissioners, industry stakeholders and others, attended the Houston Ship Channel Rededication at Brady's Landing overlooking the Houston Ship Channel. The event took place 100 years to the day of the original ceremony in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson fired a cannon by remote control from his office in Washington D.C.

04 Sep 2014

Maritime, Transportation & Petrochemical Leaders see Bright Future

Janiece Longoria, Charmain Port of Houston Authority

Leaders from the petrochemical, maritime, logistics and transportation industries delivered robust economic forecasts for the Houston Ship Channel region during the 5th annual Economic Alliance Houston Port Region Petrochemical & Maritime Outlook Conference held at the Pasadena Convention Center Thursday, September 4. More than 650 people listened to encouraging news about expansion plans amid a resurgent energy renaissance in Texas and the U.S. The Port of Houston Authority and…

19 Aug 2014

Search Suspended for Man Overboard near Cedar Bayou

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Tuesday for a man who went missing after his shrimp boat overturned Monday near Cedar Bayou on the Houston Ship Channel. The Coast Guard, Chambers County Sheriff’s office, Port of Houston Fire Department, and Harris County Dive Team searched for nearly 17 hours and covered more than 38 square miles with no sign of the missing man. “We conducted 13 sorties and searched more than 17 hours for the missing man, saturating the area with both aircraft and boats," said Zack Edwards, the command duty officer at Sector Houston-Galveston. "Unfortunately, we did not locate him and have suspended the search.

24 Apr 2014

Bayport Dredging a Step Closer; Barbours Cut Pending

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has furnished the Port Authority its draft permit for the Bayport Channel Improvement project, Executive Director Roger Guenther reported to the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority today. The draft permit for Barbours Cut channel dredging will follow soon, he said. The projects at the Port Authority’s two container terminals, which will deepen the channels from 40 feet to 45 feet to match the depth of the Houston Ship Channel, are expected to begin shortly. Reporting on a recent Audit Committee meeting, Port Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria said the financial statement audit of the Port Authority for the fiscal year ended December 31…

20 Nov 2013

Houston Ship Channel Security District Mission Publicized

Houston Ship Channel Barbours Cut: Photo CCL

During the annual meeting of the Houston Ship Channel Security District (HSCSD) November 21, 2013, public safety, homeland security and police agencies will display infrastructure and equipment funded by the HSCSD used to mitigate threats and protect the Houston Ship Channel. Harris County Sheriff's Office, Houston Police Department and U.S. Coast Guard ­- Houston-Galveston and other agencies will display response equipment outside the Houston Marriott South hotel and give updates on security measures during a news conference.

19 Nov 2013

Ship Channel Security District Funds Protection

During the annual meeting of the Houston Ship Channel Security District (HSCSD) November 21, public safety, homeland security and police agencies will display infrastructure and equipment funded by the HSCSD used to mitigate threats and protect the Houston Ship Channel. Harris County Sheriff's Office, Houston Police Department and U.S. Coast Guard Houston-Galveston and other agencies will display response equipment outside the Houston Marriott South hotel and give updates on security measures during a news conference.

15 Nov 2013

Houston Pilots Propose 3.5% Rate Hike

The port commissioners, sitting as the Board of Pilot Commissioners for Harris County Ports, are considering a proposed 3.5% increase in pilotage rates for the Houston Pilots. Interested parties will make oral presentations at a public hearing on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 9 am. The public hearing will be held on the 4th Floor of the Port of Houston Authority Building, 111 East Loop North, Houston, Texas  77029. houstonpilotboard.com

05 Nov 2013

Princess Cruises' Inaugural Bayport Sailing Benefits Vets

Caribbean Princess Lido Deck: Photo credit Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises' new service from the Port of Houston Authority's Bayport Cruise Terminal in Pasadena, Texas, kicks off with a four-day benefit cruise aboard 'Caribbean Princess' to Progreso, Mexico. About 2,000 passengers supported "Cruising for a Cause" and the first-ever fundraising cruise is expected to raise up to $1 million for two U.S. military veterans' organizations: the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and Operation Homefront. After this first voyage, to conclude on 9, November, 2013, Caribbean Princess is scheduled to begin, with a total of 27 sailings from the Houston terminal.

25 Sep 2013

Finances Very Strong; Steel Drives Tonnage Growth

The Port Commission Congratulates Newest Commissioners

PHA Signs Memorandum of Friendship & Trade Cooperation With Port of Marseille-Fos, Provence Promotion Economic Development Agency. Finances are very strong for August, Executive Director Len Waterworth shared in his report to the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority at its monthly meeting today. "I am very pleased to announce that we had another $20 million+ month, that's four out of eight this year, extremely good," Waterworth said. Waterworth also reported August's net income of $11 million, up $7 million or 212 percent.

24 Sep 2013

Major Security Exercise in Port of Houston

Photo courtesy of USCG

The Coast Guard inform that many organizations with a stake in the viability of the maritime transportation system, are participating in an annual security exercise as part of an Area Maritime Security Training and Exercise Program, at the Barbour’s Cut Cruise Terminal in Houston, 25, September 2013. AMSTEP exercises can range from simple discussion-based drills to complex full-scale evolutions. SECUREX 2013 will be a functional exercise with a scenario that involves a simulated "dirty bomb" and will test the various Incident Command System functions in a real-time environment.

23 Sep 2013

Stephen H. DonCarlos Named to Port Commission

Stephen H.  DonCarlos

Attorney Stephen H. DonCarlos was appointed to the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority by the Harris County Mayors and Councils Association on Sept. 19. The Harris County Mayors and Councils Association is an organization representing 26 cities in Harris County. Port Commissioners serve two-year terms without pay. DonCarlos was named to the seat previously held by Jimmy Burke. Burke  had served as Port Commissioner since 1999. An attorney with Reid, Strickland & Gillette, L.L.P., DonCarlos was elected as Mayor of the City of Baytown in May 2006.

03 Sep 2013

AMS Safety Awards Recipients for 2013

American Maritime Safety, Inc. (AMS) announced that the Houston Pilots Association, Maersk Line, Limited, Un-Cruise Adventures and The Vane Brothers Company would be the recipients of the 2013 AMS Safety Awards. AMS is a nonprofit maritime trade association, which facilitates the maritime industry's compliance with international shipping protocols and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) regulations. The AMS consortium is comprised of more than 400 vessel owners and operators. It is the leading maritime industry association specializing in regulatory compliance in the United States. Every year, the AMS Safety Advisory Committee presents member companies with Safety Awards in recognition of their dedication to preserving the marine environment and promoting safe vessel navigation…

23 Jul 2013

Port of Houston, Princess Cruises Lock Two More Seasons

The Port of Houston Authority reached an agreement with Princess Cruises to make passenger calls for two additional cruise seasons, in addition to the sailings that will kick off later this year in November at the state-of-the-art Bayport Cruise Terminal. The agreement, which was approved by the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority today, calls for Princess Cruises to sail from the Bayport Cruise Terminal in Pasadena, Texas, during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 cruise seasons. Sailings are expected to generate as much as $155 million of economic impact over the confirmed three cruise seasons, according to the firm Martin Associates. An estimated $3 million in state and local taxes is anticipated. Additionally, a total of 736 direct, induced and indirect jobs will be created.

26 Jun 2013

Labor Leader Clyde Fitzgerald Appointed Port of Houston Commissioner

Clyde Fitzgerald: Photo credit Port of Houston Commissioners

Harris County Commissioners Court has appointed longtime labor leader Clyde Fitzgerald to serve as a member of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority. Fitzgerald's appointment fills the seat of former Port Commissioner Jim Fonteno, who submitted his resignation to Commissioners Court in April, indicating his desire to spend more time with his wife and two young daughters. Clyde Fitzgerald, who started his career at age 16 working on the wharves of the Houston Ship Channel, was sworn in Tuesday after Commissioners Court selected him to fill Fonteno's unexpired term.

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