"DALLAS -- Crews worked Sunday to protect two sensitive wildlife areas after a crude oil spill shut down parts of a major southeast Texas port, state Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said.
Plastic walls known as booms and oil-sucking skimmer boats were used to safeguard a lake that is a crucial breeding ground and a wildlife management area that lost its protective gates when Hurricane Ike roared ashore a year and a half ago, Patterson said.
The U.S. Coast Guard said about 462,000 gallons — or 11,000 barrels — of oil spilled into the water Saturday when an 800-foot tanker headed for an Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in Beaumont collided with a towing vessel pushing two barges near Port Arthur, about 90 miles east of Houston. It was the largest spill in Texas since 1994, but still well shy of one 20 years ago involving Norwegian tanker Mega Borg that leaked 4.3 million gallons of crude oil about 60 miles off Galveston.
The tide lifted the two ships and they separated shortly after midnight Sunday without more oil being spilled, Coast Guard Petty Officer Richard Brahm said."
Schuyler Dixon reports for the Associated Press January 24, 2010.