HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) –
For nearly a week, teams have been working to contain a huge fuel spill along the Sims Bayou. It is estimated that on February 3, about 64,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked from a gasoline farm at Hobby Airport. The cause would be a malfunction of the pump.
According to the city's aviation department, the fuel stored for Southwest Airlines by its fuel partner was delivered to a storm sewer. During one day, he spilled into the bayou.
The dams are now stationed along the waterway. One is visible from the Audubon Nature Center Bridge on Sims Bayou.
"We usually have wooden ducks in the water, as well as egrets and herons," said Mary Anne Weber, center. "I have not seen one since Monday."
The smell of hydrocarbons was so strong at first that she said it had an impact on student tourist groups. Cooler weather helped with odor and fumes, but the scent persists. She also worried about the possibility that the fuel could ignite.
The bayou is the habitat of hawks and owls. Bald eagles have also been observed in the area. More than 100 species of birds are native to the southwest bayou of Houston. Mammals include river otters, which have been spotted in the past.
"The longer it stays, the more likely it is that wildlife and the environment will be damaged, and there are people who regularly fish along the bayou," said Weber.
Cleaning and containment is done by SwissPort, the fuel supplier for Southwest. In a statement from Southwest Airlines, the fuel evacuation would have been the result of a malfunction of the pump.
"We have no evidence of immediate impact on wildlife," reads the statement.
Weber hopes that is the case, but she is not convinced. That's what's behind the fuel that concerns it.
"We may not know the full impact for a while," she said.
Southwest said that SwissPort was working with the Coast Guard, the Houston Fire Department and other emergency response entities to reduce fuel leakage. The cleaning should take two weeks.
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