HOUSTON – After 15,000 gallons of beef tallow spilled into the waterway from a ruptured storage tank, the US Coast Guard closed the northern end of the Houston Ship Channel on Tuesday, according to a Dow Jones report. However, the closed section, which is less than a mile long, is having minimal impact on ship traffic there. Details on when it would reopen have not been released.

No vessels have been delayed to or from the port because of the spill. The 25-mile-long Houston port ranks first in the US in import tonnage and second in exports by weight, handling vast crude shipments as well as finished container goods and industrial deliveries.

Approximately 250,000 gallons of beef tallow spilled from a land-based tank owned by agricultural product firm Jacob Stern and Sons Inc., the Coast Guard said. The 15,000 gallons of fat that entered the waterway did so via storm drains.

Tallow solidifies at room temperature, so as soon as it hit the water it just “sat there," a Coast Guard source said. Six boats are collecting the coagulated fat with booms and the spill is expected to have a minimal environmental impact.

The cause of this mishap is under investigation.