(CNN) -- A quarter of a million gallons of beef tallow spilled out of a shore-based storage tank in Houston, according to a U.S. Coast Guard statement Wednesday.
Fifteen thousand gallons of the white and yellowy substance, commonly referred to as commercial animal fat, leaked into the Houston Ship Channel early Tuesday evening, entering the channel through a storm drain, the statement said.
The incident prompted authorities to close a section of the channel from City Dock 16 up to the Buffalo Bayou Railroad Bridge, the most northern portion the channel.
Emergency crews from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Texas General Land Office are working to the contain the spill with six boats deployed in the affected area, according to the statement.
"It was good that it's cold and not summertime because the cold helped the fat congeal and allowed workers to scoop it up," said Texas General Land Office spokesman Jim Suydam. "Also, the bugs would have been nightmare if it were summertime."
Garner Environmental Services, a Texas-based emergency management company, was also contracted to conduct cleanup operations in the spill's aftermath, the Coast Guard statement said,
The company could not be immediately reached for comment.
"Due to the nature of the product, the environmental impact is expected to be minimal," the statement said.
Authorities say they are investigating the cause of the incident.