Houston, Galveston, Corpus Christi ports reopen with draft restrictions

  Sept 5--THE ports of Houston, Galveston and Corpus Christi have reopened now that flood waters are starting to recede in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. However, there are a few channel restrictions, including one-way vessel movements, daylight-only transits and draft restrictions of 43 feet.

  Several key energy ports remain either shut or running with restrictions, including the Port of Corpus Christi and Port of Port Arthur, Reuters reported.

  The storm paralysed the Houston area, forcing operators to shut refineries, pipelines and ports crucial to moving crude oil and products around the region and globally.

  On Thursday, the US Coast Guard said that it was reopening the Port of Corpus Christi for vessels up to 43 feet draft, while the port said the ship channel was also reopening with certain restrictions. More than 20 vessels awaited berth assignments at the port.

  Port of Houston officials said there was no evidence of flooding on terminals and no visible damage to containers, cranes or other equipment. Power to refrigerated containers was still operational, reported American Shipper. Trucks are also now able to enter the Houston area, although some highways are still underwater.

  After almost a week of suspended operations as Hurricane Harvey lashed the US Gulf Coast with heavy rains and flooding, some 20 vessels are awaiting berth assignments. The Port of Corpus Christi said it will allow seven local refineries to resume operations to serve the already short US fuel market.

  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced a "Regional Emergency Declaration" in 26 Gulf coast and eastern seaboard states as well as the district of Columbia. The emergency declaration provides certain exemptions for motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance by transporting fuel products.

  BNSF rail yards at Silsbee, Galveston and Beaumont remain closed due to flooding, but the rail line's South Yard, Dayton Yard and Casey Yard have reopened with limited operations. The Houston (Pearland) Intermodal Facility and Automotive Facility are accessible through an automated gate system (AGS) and train loading and unloading operations have resumed, said the Fort Worth, Texas-based Class I railway.

  "We continue to re-route or divert as much traffic as possible around the area until flood waters recede and storm damaged lines can be repaired. Routes are open into central Texas and traffic is moving through San Antonio, including trains destined for Mexico through our Eagle Pass gateway," said BNSF.

  ABF Freight said Harvey-related complications are interrupting service in Houston, Dallas, Little Rock and San Antonio while Averitt Express LTL trucking terminals in Houston and Beaumont, Texas, were closed on Thursday. Limited trucking services were open at Austin, Corpus Christi and San Antonio, Texas, facilities, said Averitt Express.


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