Oil Spill in Houston Ship Channel Blocks Traffic; Size Unknown

"TEXAS CITY, Texas -- The cleanup of an unknown amount of thick, sticky oil that spilled into the Galveston Bay blocked the movement Sunday of about 60 ships, including three cruise ships, between the Gulf of Mexico and one of the world's busiest petrochemical transportation waterways.

A barge carrying nearly a million gallons of marine fuel oil sprung a leak after colliding with a ship Saturday afternoon in the Houston Ship Channel. Officials believe only one of the barge's tanks — which holds 168,000 gallons — was breached, though Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Sam Danus said Sunday it wasn't clear how much oil had spilled.

Crews were skimming oil out of the water Sunday and about six and half miles of containment booms were being used to protect environmentally sensitive areas, the Coast Guard said. The area is home to popular bird habitats, especially during the approaching migratory shorebird season. Danus said flights are planned later Sunday to assess whether wetlands or wildlife had been affected."

Michael Graczyk reports for the Associated Press March 23, 2014.

SEE ALSO:

"Barge Spills Oil Near Texas Wildlife Sanctuary" (Los Angeles Times)

Monday, March 24, 2014