Quantcast

Nearly 170,000 Gallons of Oil Spills Into Busy Houston Ship Channel

The rush is on to clear up nearly 170,000 gallons of oil that spilled into the busy Houston Ship Channel in Texas City, TX over the weekend after a collision between a barge and ship.

The spill occurred after a barge carrying more than 900,000 gallons of oil collided with a 585-foot ship on the channel, which is one of the world's busiest waterways, according to The Associated Press. Today marks the third day that the channel has been closed. It connects the Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and handles as many as 80 vessels per day.

According to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's office, the barge has been moved to a ship yard away from the scene of the spill. 

"This is an extremely serious spill," said Capt. Brian Penoyer of the U.S. Coast Guard told the Houston Chronicle. "It is a persistent oil."

The Coast Guard said 24 vessels will continue working to clean 4,000 barrels worth of oil today, about 45 miles from Houston. Winds have spread out the oil, further complicating containment efforts. About 90,000 feet of boom had been set up along the Texas City dike over the weekend. The U.S. Coast Guard says no ships will be allowed to leave port until the oil spill is fully under control.

No timetable has been set for the channel's reopening, but it is clearly impacting businesses of all sorts, including fishing tackle shops, ferries and tourism.

The spill could impact the bird population as thousands of shorebirds are still in the area. The Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary is just east of the spill site. It is known to attract 50,000 to 70,000 shorebirds to its muddy, flat terrain.

"The timing really couldn't be much worse since we're approaching the peak shorebird migration season," said Richard Gibbons, conservation director of the Houston Audubon Society.

The Coast Guard said it found and transferred fewer than 10 oiled birds to a wildlife rehabilitation center by Sunday afternoon.

Houston's CBS affiliate said other agencies aiding the Coast Guard include: the Texas General Land Office, Galveston County Office of Emergency Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas City Office of Emergency Management and the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health. 

More than 30 vessels, including two cruise ships, were waiting to enter the channel from the Gulf of Mexico as of Sunday night. A cruise ship and 35 vessels were waiting to leave Galveston Bay, according to Lt. Sam Danus told the Houston Chronicle.

Geoff Roberts was fishing Saturday with his wife and friend around the time of the collision. He said he found oil on his own 21-foot-boat and his fishing gear.

"You could see a big oil slick as far as the eye could see," he said.

Just last week, about 10,000 gallons of oil spilled from a Sunoco pipeline into a nature preserve area near Cincinnati, OH.

Visit EcoWatch’s TAR SANDS page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Oil palm plantations in northeastern Borneo, state of Sabah, Malaysia. Recently planted oil palms can be seen in the bright green grassy areas and a tiny bit of natural rainforest still struggles for survival farther away. Vaara / E+ / Getty Images

Palm Oil importers in Europe will not be able to meet their self-imposed goal of only selling palm oil that is certified deforestation-free, according to a new analysis produced by the Palm Oil Transparency Coalition, as Bloomberg reported.

Read More Show Less
Scientists found the most melting near Mould Bay on Prince Patrick Island, NWT, Canada. University of Alaska Fairbanks Permafrost Laboratory

The Canadian Arctic is raising alarm bells for climate scientists. The permafrost there is thawing 70 years earlier than expected, a research team discovered, according to Reuters. It is the latest indication that the global climate crisis is ramping up faster than expected.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pixabay

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Cherries are one of the most beloved fruits, and for good reason.

Read More Show Less
A fuel truck carries fuel into a fracking site past the warning signs Jan. 27, 2016 near Stillwater, Oklahoma. J Pat Carter / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

For more than three decades, the U.S. government has mismanaged toxic oil and gas waste containing carcinogens, heavy metals and radioactive materials, according to a new Earthworks report — and with the country on track to continue drilling and fracking for fossil fuels, the advocacy group warns of growing threats to the planet and public health.

Read More Show Less
European Union blue and gold flags flying at the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium. 35007/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

Newly adopted guidelines set forth by the European Commission Tuesday aim to tackle climate change by way of the financial sector. The move comes to bolster the success of the Sustainable Action Plan published last year to reorient capital flows toward sustainable investment and manage financial risks from climate change, environmental degradation and social issues.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivering remarks to supporters at a Liberal Climate Action Rally in Toronto, Ontario on March 4. Arindam Shivaani / NurPhoto / Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that his government would once again approve the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would triple the amount of oil transported from Alberta's tar sands to the coast of British Columbia (BC).

Read More Show Less
An exhausted polar bear wanders the streets of Norilsk, a Siberian city hundreds of miles from its natural habitat. IRINA YARINSKAYA / AFP / Getty Images

An exhausted, starving polar bear has been spotted wandering around the Siberian city of Norilsk, Reuters reported Tuesday. It is the first time a polar bear has entered the city in more than 40 years.

Read More Show Less
Bumblebees flying and pollinating a creeping thyme flower. emeliemaria / iStock / Getty Images

It pays to pollinate in Minnesota.

Read More Show Less