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Houston Ship Channel Developments


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Texas History 101

While it can boast about the more than 6,300 ships that passed through its waters last year, the Port of Houston started out as a mere loading point for cotton on the way to the Port of Galveston.

by Kimberly Jeffries

The Houston Ship Channel is, no doubt, a fire-breathing force to be reckoned with. The leading U.S. port in foreign tonnage, and second only to the Port of South Louisiana in total tonnage, it

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You have to consider the logistics and the realities of putting an all out attack on a chemical plant or storage facility for such things to happen.

Granted, OKC proved that a single man can do alot of damage, but that's only against a single building.

Let me see if I can type this out into a coherrent thought that won't be TOTALLY be torn apart:

First off, we've had quite a number of accidents over the years and several major calamities have been averted because of safety valves and appropriate warnings when things DID go wrong.

Second, a plant is huge. Period. we're talking ACRES if not TENS (HUNDREDS?) of ACRES. The ability to be able to bypass the security with enough people/explosives to make it all the way to a critical area without SOME resistence is quite remote.

Third, if a plant was breached, it would take no less than taking over a control room AND setting off explosives in a critical area to do serious damage. Both objectives of which would raise serious alarms from any surviving workers that would at least call 911.

Industrial accidents happen quite a bit, we've had some fairly spectacular fires/explosions in Houstons past (anyone remember texas City or the explosion at Englewood yards?) and would cause nothing more than a major hiccup economically and relatively small numbers of loss of life (sorry, just a statement of fact).

In regards to the Houston Ship Channel, we're more than likely have a major incident of the channel being clogged while the mess is cleaned out of the way than for a major catastrophic even that would cause massive loss of life. The economic impact of that would be more detrimental to Houstons ability to recover than the loss of life. You can only see the number of ships leaving and entering the channel to see that.

Ricco

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If the editor had common sence, he would delete the post...

The writer of this topic is a "Micheal Moore" of sense. Making us all look bad...

Why give Terrorists, OR ANYONE, the idea? And do you remember the report, of what would happen if an atomic bomb went off Downtown? god, just open your arms to these people for ideas. I know they say "To prevent a catastrophe, think like a terrorist..." well don't publish it out for the world to see, and think about...

So stupid to even show anyone other then the FBI or Port Authority...

Next, they'll give out a perfect flight plan for one of the many Southwest Airplanes to just turn a little bit instead of landing at Hobby, and crashing it into the Chase or Wells Fargo Tower...

This is so obserd...

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  • 1 year later...
Texas History 101

While it can boast about the more than 6,300 ships that passed through its waters last year, the Port of Houston started out as a mere loading point for cotton on the way to the Port of Galveston.

by Kimberly Jeffries

The Houston Ship Channel is, no doubt, a fire-breathing force to be reckoned with. The leading U.S. port in foreign tonnage, and second only to the Port of South Louisiana in total tonnage, it’s the core of the petrochemical industry and a hotbed of international trade.

But the Port of Houston hasn’t always been the sixth-largest port in the world. While it can boast about the more than 6,300 ships that passed through its waters last year, the Port of Houston started out as a mere loading point for cotton on the way to the Port of Galveston, which according to the Handbook of Texas was widely considered the “best natural port in Texas.” The cotton would travel from Houston down the fifty or

so miles of the channel on riverboats or barges; when the cotton arrived in Galveston Bay, it would be transferred to seafaring ships and thus enter the international market. Galveston, which was declared a port of entry by the Congress of Mexico in 1825, is the second-oldest U.S. port in the Gulf of Mexico (the Port of New Orleans holds the top honors). By 1900, Galveston was number one in the U.S. in exporting cotton, and third in the country for exporting wheat.

That same year, Galveston’s momentum as an international port was halted by a storm that hit the afternoon of September 8. The Great Hurricane, as it came to be called, wreaked utter mayhem on the island, killing between six thousand and eight thousand residents. At the time, the city’s highest point of elevation was 8.7 feet, so the 15.7-foot storm surge left much of Galveston underwater. Winds between 130 miles per hour and 140 miles per hour pummeled Galveston, and with no seawalls to protect against damage to structural foundations, more than 3,600 buildings were ruined. The Great Hurricane remains the deadliest natural disaster in national history.

In the years after the storm, as Galveston struggled to regain lost ground in the trade industry, the Port of Houston thrived. The idea for the Houston Ship Channel was conceived years earlier, in the 1850s, by unhappy Houston merchants who disliked the Galveston Wharf Company, which ran the Port of Galveston. The businessmen envisioned a route that would bypass Galveston, and after the Civil War, they created the Buffalo Bayou Ship Channel Company and then convinced Congress to declare Houston a port. Responsibility for the channel passed through multiple hands throughout the course of its development, but it was under Charles Morgan’s direction when a channel from Galveston Bay to Houston was dredged. The federal government bought the channel in 1890 and has since been responsible for its maintenance. The Houston Ship Channel was officially completed in 1914, and five years later the Merry Mount brought the first direct shipment of cotton from Houston to the international market. Within ten years, Houston became the number one port for cotton in the U.S., taking the title from Galveston, fifty miles southeast.

Today, the Houston Ship Channel hosts a proliferation of commodities that are a little more malevolent than fluffy cotton. Its top import and export is petroleum, and it also traffics petroleum products, crude fertilizers and minerals, and organic chemicals. With up to 190 million tons of goods coming in annually, such as in 2003, the Houston Ship Channel is a high-octane super highway. The channel’s considerable size and concentration of hazardous chemicals make it vulnerable, but the fear is that the attack won’t come from Mother Nature.

Excellent information! Is the Port of Houston the world's largest inland port?

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When the Panama canal is completed in 2015 Houston will get more tonnage.  This year Houston surpassed New York for exports.  This will make Houston a Global city with the number one port in the United States.  Two International airports, the largest medical center in the world.  And the Energy capital of the world.  That is why they are expanded the port.  

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It's no secret... The Bayport Cruise Terminal has been teeming with activity. With the on/off ramps being built for Port Rd. It will make it easier to avoid LBC & the tracks. Rumor is Norwegian. There is also room for future expansion of the cruise terminal docks but those have been in the talks since the mid 2000's.

Edit: Houston is a Gamma World City... Has been for some time.

Edited by Montrose1100
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It's no secret... The Bayport Cruise Terminal has been teeming with activity. With the on/off ramps being built for Port Rd. It will make it easier to avoid LBC & the tracks. Rumor is Norwegian. There is also room for future expansion of the cruise terminal docks but those have been in the talks since the mid 2000's.

Edit: Houston is a Gamma World City... Has been for some time.

 

It's not a rumor.  Norwegian announced some time ago that they will begin cruising out of the Port of Houston's Bayport Cruise Terminal in 2014.

 

Princess Cruises started cruising from the terminal today.

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And at the rate we are spreading out our towers, we will remain that way until the floods come.

That's ridiculous. All our towers have to be in the same place to increase our World City ranking? I think the fact that we are about to have 2 international airports, $35 billion in port expansions in the next 3 years, and an increasingly important energy industry to the world economy would have a bigger impact. And if the rumors are true that there will be more cruises bringing more tourists to city is just icing on the cake!

Edited by ClutchCity
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That's ridiculous. All our towers have to be in the same place to increase our World City ranking? I think the fact that we are about to have 2 international airports, $35 billion in port expansions in the next 3 years, and an increasingly important energy industry to the world economy would have a bigger impact. And if the rumors are true that there will be more cruises bringing more tourists to city is just icing on the cake!

 

Tourists? lol... they're here to see.... what? Traffic jams? Boxy, boring, and bland skyscraper designs - located miles and miles apart? Crappy sports teams? Fake space shuttles? Polluted bayous? Come on man, give me a break. Whatever tourism we had pretty much died when Astroworld shuttered and our manned spaceflight capability eroded. The closest thing we have to tourism are the energy related travelers who are forced to come here and wealthy (or not so wealthy) foreign shoppers. That's it.

 

 

You underestimate the benefits and synergies that having a dense downtown can do for a city's infrastructure, transportation/mobility, vibrancy, skyscraper design, liveability, etc, etc.

 

 

So yes. Having towers in the same "place" does have the potential to do wonders for you (city).

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It's no secret... The Bayport Cruise Terminal has been teeming with activity. With the on/off ramps being built for Port Rd. It will make it easier to avoid LBC & the tracks. Rumor is Norwegian. There is also room for future expansion of the cruise terminal docks but those have been in the talks since the mid 2000's.

Edit: Houston is a Gamma World City... Has been for some time.

 

According to this we're a Beta+ city...

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_city

 

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Tourists? lol... they're here to see.... what? Traffic jams? Boxy, boring, and bland skyscraper designs - located miles and miles apart? Crappy sports teams? Fake space shuttles? Polluted bayous? Come on man, give me a break. Whatever tourism we had pretty much died when Astroworld shuttered and our manned spaceflight capability eroded. The closest thing we have to tourism are the energy related travelers who are forced to come here and wealthy (or not so wealthy) foreign shoppers. That's it.

You underestimate the benefits and synergies that having a dense downtown can do for a city's infrastructure, transportation/mobility, vibrancy, skyscraper design, liveability, etc, etc.

So yes. Having towers in the same "place" does have the potential to do wonders for you (city).

Not entirely true. There's sports teams, shopping venues, restaurants, museums, and other "city" attractions, and Houston draws like a magnet from a rather vast radius, easily encompassing Baton Rouge and College Station (among others).

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According to this we're a Beta+ city...

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_city

 

I didn't realize we jumped the scale. Still a ways to go, as we are behind Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, and Miami.

 

As for tourists, we already do have them, but not as a final destination. People fly/drive here to go on cruises or connecting flights to places like Cancun. Even though they don't spend a lot of money here, they still are spending money.

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The growth in the Cruise business is due to the limited capacity at the Galveston Cruise basin.  Believe me if Galveston had 1-2 more slips available the Bayport Terminal wouldn't get any business.  The cruise industry really loves the 20 minutes from port to international waters where they can allow gambling from Galveston, versus the 1 hour to international waters from Bayport.

 

I do think though that Bayport isn't quite as susceptible fog as Galveston?  Boliver pass is still quite foggy, but I think less so than the port of Galveston.

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I didn't realize we jumped the scale. Still a ways to go, as we are behind Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, and Miami.

 

As for tourists, we already do have them, but not as a final destination. People fly/drive here to go on cruises or connecting flights to places like Cancun. Even though they don't spend a lot of money here, they still are spending money.

 

When Dallas ranks ahead of us on anything good, I have to wonder about the methodology. ;)

 

Seriously, though, I am curious about a methodology that puts London and New York alone in the Alpha+ category.  There might be an (unintential perhaps) anglo-american bias to how they figure this out.

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When Dallas ranks ahead of us on anything good, I have to wonder about the methodology. ;)

 

Seriously, though, I am curious about a methodology that puts London and New York alone in the Alpha+ category.  There might be an (unintential perhaps) anglo-american bias to how they figure this out.

Yeah.... I always thought the top 4 were New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo (not just the first two). But I don't know how they actually rank the cities, other then "how many companies hq, airlines, global whatever, etc. Which is why I always thought Atlanta would be above us because of the CDC.

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Yeah.... I always thought the top 4 were New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo (not just the first two). But I don't know how they actually rank the cities, other then "how many companies hq, airlines, global whatever, etc. Which is why I always thought Atlanta would be above us because of the CDC.

 

Looking at the article at least, the economic ranking seems to hinge on financial services.  Given that NYC and London have been such powerhouses in that for so long I guess that's what drives their ranking.  Probably also why Dallas edges us out.  Seems way too limited a criteria and I still think there's an unwarrented bias in the methodology.

 

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Looking at the article at least, the economic ranking seems to hinge on financial services.  Given that NYC and London have been such powerhouses in that for so long I guess that's what drives their ranking.  Probably also why Dallas edges us out.  Seems way too limited a criteria and I still think there's an unwarrented bias in the methodology.

 

 

Correct.  It is a pointless ranking that gets far more attention than deserved. 

 

They merely count the offices of the top 25 accountancy, advertising, law and management consultancy firms and the top 75  banking/finance and insurance firms.  That's all the rankings show us:  which cities have the most offices of these particular firms in these particular industries.  Connectivity and leadership in a global industry that produces stuff that people need every day . . .   completely irrelevant.  ;-)

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  • 4 months later...

I didn't want to post about this but then I saw KHOU & KPRC had already picked up on it.

So, about 924,000g of Oil spilled into the ship channel.

Small spills happen every once in a while and most are so small they never get reported.

I think it will be a quick pick up and should take about 24-48 hours.

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I didn't want to post about this but then I saw KHOU & KPRC had already picked up on it.

So, about 924,000g of Oil spilled into the ship channel.

Small spills happen every once in a while and most are so small they never get reported.

I think it will be a quick pick up and should take about 24-48 hours.

 

the fact that i hate to consider, is that it could be worse, much worse.  it is a little sad that we are relieved that it's only 924,000 gallons.

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whoops, i just started a thread about this in the General Houston subforum. 

very true bachanon.. though i heard it may only of pierced one compartment, with like 160,000 gallons. so it could be even more of a "relief". still a very unfortunate situation for Houston, and it sounds like wildlife could be effected..

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in my post in the General Houston subforum that has since been deleted, i mentioned the possibility of having pipelines running offshore for ships to link up to to load and unload oil/LNG/ect. i believe the port of Freeport considered this idea when they were building the LNG facility, but im not sure if it ever happened or not. it could prevent accidents like this happening (at least in such fragile ecosystems like Galveston bay) as it would keep the ships carrying oil, gas, and other substances that could have adverse side effects on the environment if they were spilled, out offshore where if a spill were to happen it would be less damaging to the local ecosystem. they also wouldnt have to traverse the tricky/busy ship channel where they are more at risk of collisions like the one that occurred yesterday.
not to mention, i believe these ships idle while they are in port loading/unloading their reservoirs.. this dumps a lot of pollution into the air that is likely to get blown onshore (depending on the winds/temperature difference between land and sea), over Houston. if these ships were loading/unloading offshore their exhaust would fall into the gulf. the oceans are the largest carbon sink in the world, perfect for absorbing the pollution before it drifts towards land/Houston.
that second part is one reason i always wondered why Houston never built a deep water super port like Shanghai did on an island offshore. it would be easier for ships to navigate when they dont have to worry about traversing a narrow ship channel and all the obstacles in Galveston Bay, and less of the ship channel pollution would reach the city. i realize many industries would have to be relocated for that, and the Houston Ship Channel is a perfect location (and capable of handling most [if not all?] of those large ships the Shanghai super port can handle) for a port since its protected by Galveston. but they could move some of the heavier polluting industries to Pelican Island or the back side of Bolivar Peninsula, if they want the protection of a barrier island. or at the very least move some industries onto the islands that stretch across Trinity Bay/through the Houston Ship Channel just west/southwest of La Porte. at least with that there would still be a few miles of water surrounding you to absorb some of the pollution, instead of bringing ships all the way up the ship channel inside the beltway, dumping their pollution across the east side of the city.

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Sorry cloud but that will never happen. The ship channel is the largest petro-chemical complex in the world and the billions it would cost to build new facilities in Freeport are a reason alone that will never happen. Oil isn't the only product moved here, don't forget about our states greatest export, chemicals.

The real issue is why was this vessel moving in the first place when the channel was closed by the pilots? It had not officially opened due to the fog.

I'm just really glad it wasn't a chemical tanker carrying cyanide...

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Sorry cloud but that will never happen. The ship channel is the largest petro-chemical complex in the world and the billions it would cost to build new facilities in Freeport are a reason alone that will never happen. Oil isn't the only product moved here, don't forget about our states greatest export, chemicals.

The real issue is why was this vessel moving in the first place when the channel was closed by the pilots? It had not officially opened due to the fog.

I'm just really glad it wasn't a chemical tanker carrying cyanide...

I wasn't suggesting they move it to Freeport. I was suggesting they possibly follow the same idea Freeport had and run pipelines from the current facilities offshore to a floating dock platform type thing for a loading/unloading facility.

I did however suggest they move some facilities to one/some of the Islands in Galveston or Trinity bay's, which would cost billions like you said. It wouldn't be reasonable to up and move everyone, but maybe we could make it to where any new refineries and heavy polluters have to be built further away from the city, possibly on those islands. That wouldn't prevent spills in Galveston bay (though if they implemented that along with the under sea pipelines it would make spills in the bay much less likely), but at least they would be surrounded by a carbon sink the size of Houston. That would surely absorb a chunk of the pollution coming from any new refineries/industries, (including the possible new refineries to process the extra dirty tar sands when they build the new pipeline.. I think the islands would be a great place for them. They are probably running out of room along the ship channel for new refineries anyways) and mean less pollution for Houston.

Another way of reducing pollution without spending billions relocating, or imposing development location restrictions is only burning off pollutants when the wind is blowing off shore (the sea breeze reverses when the land is cooler than the water, which happens at night and in the winter time). Burn all the nasty **** at night or ramp up production in the winter to counter lower production in the summer months. I don't know about you guys but I'd like to change Houston from having the largest carbon footprint in the US..

Is the port of Houston really the largest petro-chemical complex in the world?

And yeah.. True about the chemicals. I know all about that, growing up in Lake Jackson (probably part of why I have Asthma).

Good point, I didn't realize the channel was closed due to fog..

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The plants have flares burning as an emergency measure, not to burn off waste products on a regular basis. I think the permits do not allow regular burning of waste products, and the plants prefer to use anything left as a feed to another process. If it's a flammable gas, there's a use for it.

 

There aren't any islands in the Trinity/Galveston Bay complex large enough for a refinery, and none of those islands has enough elevation to be safe during a storm. Much of what passes for islands is spoil dumps from dredging the ship channels.

 

New refineries are rare. Most growth in capacity comes from improving or expanding existing facilities, which have room for a fair amount of expansion.

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The plants have flares burning as an emergency measure, not to burn off waste products on a regular basis. I think the permits do not allow regular burning of waste products, and the plants prefer to use anything left as a feed to another process. If it's a flammable gas, there's a use for it.

There aren't any islands in the Trinity/Galveston Bay complex large enough for a refinery, and none of those islands has enough elevation to be safe during a storm. Much of what passes for islands is spoil dumps from dredging the ship channels.

New refineries are rare. Most growth in capacity comes from improving or expanding existing facilities, which have room for a fair amount of expansion.

Thanks for the informative response.

I get the point of the flares, that's not what I meant when I was talking about burning off stuff.

How large are refineries? I knew they were big but I figured one could fit on one of those islands. The smallest in the chain of dredge piles is over a mile long by half a mile wide. And surely if they've managed to create those islands by dredging, they could dredge more to build up the islands taller and make them wider to accommodate for a refinery?

Interesting.. I just assumed we would be building new refineries for the new pipeline.

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But then you're talking g about putting massive amounts of equipment on unstable, low ground level islands that could be taken out in a fairly minor storm.

These refineries are huge, just on what little I know, they are on several square miles of land.

putting a remote loading dock is a good idea, but wouldn't work well in this area due to the massive amount of traffic. leading to the port.

even putting it further away from the region is iffy because the underwater pipes would be vulnerable to the various fishing industries.

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But then you're talking g about putting massive amounts of equipment on unstable, low ground level islands that could be taken out in a fairly minor storm.

These refineries are huge, just on what little I know, they are on several square miles of land.

putting a remote loading dock is a good idea, but wouldn't work well in this area due to the massive amount of traffic. leading to the port.

even putting it further away from the region is iffy because the underwater pipes would be vulnerable to the various fishing industries.

China built an airport on a man made island in the last decade or so and it has to withstand major tsunamis (I heard some of the ones in Dubai aren't doing as well though).

As for size, like I said, they could dredge more of the bay and connect that string of islands across the upper part of Trinity/Galveston bay to fit a refinery.

You don't think they could run the pipeline a few miles offshore to an area where there isn't as much traffic?

True about fishing I guess, but there are underwater pipelines all over the world and they seem to do ok.

I think an underwater pipeline like 5 or 10 miles offshore would be the best bet, but I like the idea of expanding port operations to the bay islands too. It may put a dent in air pollution being surrounded by water.

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production at the local refineries is being hampered by the closing of the ship channel.. this article goes more in depth about the severity and consequences of the situation.

"A warning to mariners issued by the Coast Guard on Sunday said portions of the Houston channel and its offshoots to Texas City and Galveston, Texas, along with a portion of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, could be closed through March 29 or longer, depending on the requirements of a cleanup."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-usa-oil-spill-20140322,0,4926772.story

this is why we need those underwater pipelines going to a remote docking station offshore. if there is another spill in the bay or a collision or something blocking the channel it wont effect refinery production/the economy.

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They opened it up for traffic today, but restricted to daylight movement only. It will open up again at 0500.

Collisions like this are rare. Fog is more of a seasonal issue. Trust me if the companies running the terminals/plants/refineries were worried about these small disruptions they would have built along the coast along time ago.

Vessels are held up due to congestion more than anything.

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They opened it up for traffic today, but restricted to daylight movement only. It will open up again at 0500.

Collisions like this are rare. Fog is more of a seasonal issue. Trust me if the companies running the terminals/plants/refineries were worried about these small disruptions they would have built along the coast along time ago.

Vessels are held up due to congestion more than anything.

thats good to hear.

true.. but they like the protection provided by the barrier islands.

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If you were to move terminals off-shore you would be talking literally Hundreds of Pipe Lines and dozens of berthing "Stations" spread out over a very large area, unprotected from the Weather/Seas as well as vulnerable to traffic and terrorism.  Another issue is that the Gulf is very Shallow.  There are literally some ships that when loaded cannot get within a Hundred Mile of our Coastline. Many of the Tankers you see, are just shuttling Crude from those vessels' which we cannot see.  My point is that if we were to "Terminals" offshore, unless you go way out to do it...then the amount of Dredging would be astronomical and forever ongoing.   The idea of offshore terminal in the US, however, is not new or off the wall.  There actually is one south of Louisiana. LOOP - Louisiana Offshore Oil Port ( www.loopllc.com ).  It's been around for quite a while, but not without its own issues and accidents.

 

The idea of Placing Refineries on Galveston/Pelican Island was debated a long time ago, as well.  The City of Galveston decided that they did not want the industry due to the hazards, pollution as well as the unsightliness of the facilities.  Good Call for little Galveston.  Can you imagine if TX City were there now? 

 

There are many improvements that can be made to the Ship Channel to make it safer for ship traffic and Pollution certainly is a problem...both from Ships and from Refineries. But, the ecological damage by pushing the industries into the fragile (and already damaged) bay, or offshore, would be physically, politically and logistically impossible.  China and Dubai can do things that we cannot, by the nature of their governments and money on-hand.  While as impressive as that Terminal in China is, and I have marveled at it myself, the Price is astronomical. Both In Costs and to the environment. 

 

This accident was tragic...and there will be others, I'm afraid.  A disaster as a result of Careless humans. What we have to do, is just work to make things safer and cleaner.  Both of these things will take a lot of money and political will.  But, this is Texas.  Where Politician's are distracted by really important issues...like saving Afton Oaks from Rail.  ;-)

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