U.S. Coast Guard reopens portions of Houston ship channel after chemical leak

(Reuters) - The U.S. Coast Guard on Monday reopened portions of the Houston Ship Channel with restrictions on waterways affected by the petrochemical leak outside Houston that has disrupted ship traffic.

The busiest U.S. oil port, shut last Friday after a chemical leak into the water, led Royal Dutch Shell Plc and LyondellBasell Industries to cut production on Monday, according to people familiar with their operations.

In a midday announcement, the Coast Guard said it is allowing daytime transits only through the ship channel, which connects the port of Houston to the Gulf of Mexico and is home to nine refineries.

“Vessels currently in the contaminated area are not authorized to depart until decontamination is complete,” the Coast Guard said in a statement. It also required vessels to keep a 40-minute distance between each other.

Reporting by Collin Eaton and Erwin Seba in Houston; Editing by Leslie Adler and Bill Berkrot