Officials from the Coast Guard reported that 46 outbound vessels and 47 inbound vessels are being held in queue for transit in the Port of Houston. Coast Guard officials said they must first ensure that the vessels can navigate through oil-free waterways to prevent further contamination from the spill from occurring before opening the channel.
An estimated 168,000 gallons of bunker fuel oil spilled into the waters of Galveston Bay and spread to ship channels as well as the Gulf of Mexico when a Liberian flagged vessel collided with a barge during foggy conditions. Officials said the tow vessel and barge are owned by Kirby Inland Marine based in Houston. Officials are still investigating how the crash occurred, and traffic, visibility and crossing arrangements are being pursued as potential causes.
Wildlife has been greatly impacted in addition to the economic implications. The Houston Audubon Society is estimating that 60 birds have been found with oil on them.
Ferry service between Galveston and Bolivar will reopen today after having been suspended due to the incident.
Source: Click2Houston.com, “Coast Guard will re-evaluate ship channel traffic Tuesday,” by Amanda Perez, March 22, 2014