Environmental aspects of a supertanker port on the Texas Gulf coast.
Hann, R.W., Jr.
Von Gonten, D.
Major physical, biological, and cultural features are inventoried for the Texas coastal zone that may be impacted by supertanker activity, at a proposed deep-sea port. Models predicting the effects of potential offshore oil spills in the coastal environmental are developed. Barrier islands, which exist along much of the Texas coast, tend to protect bays and estuaries from offshore oil spills, and wind and sea conditions in the western Gulf of Mexico are favorable for oil spill containment and control. Spilled oil takes 2-3 d to reach shore, and an offshore supertanker port may reduce the potential for oil spills in estuaries. The environmental impact of an offshore port will be minimal if the site is 29 mi offshore rather than 11 mi offshore. An annual 500-ton spill is not expected to affect estuaries, and oil control procedures are expected to be effective. However, a 30,000-ton spill could cause severe environmental damage, and control and containment procedures must be developed for this contingency.