Update: Texas Barge Accident Clean-Up
On Saturday, the Texas City dike was forced to close after an oil-leak was detected from a barge off the coast. The area within the levee, which runs approximately five miles, was evacuated as a precaution and to allow for cleanup operations. The spill was the result of a collision between the barge and a 585-foot-long bulk carrier ship. The barge was carrying more than 920,000 gallons at the time of the collision and it estimated that a little more than 160,000 gallons of that oil was dumped into the dike.
Cleanup operations have successfully cleared the barge of its remaining contents and Coast Guard officials stated that the leak was due to a ruptured tank on the barge from the collision. The Coast Guard commander confirmed the significant size of the spill but that emptying the barge was an important step in the right direction as it removes the risk of continued spilling.
While cleanup operations are making positive headway, the waterway is one of the world's busiest ship channels. For a spill of this size on such an important channel, it is a priority for authorities to clear away the spill as quickly and effectively as possible. As a result, more than 380 individuals have been rounded-up to work on the matter and the number appears to be growing. The operation also includes an entire fleet of oil skimmers and others. Concerns for opening the jetty for ships and for the natural wildlife, especially birds, are motivating prompt and significant action.
The company that owns the barge is the Houston-based Kirby Inland Marine Corp., the country's largest inland barge company, has taken full responsibility for the incident as well as the cleanup costs. The president of the company stated that the black tar-like globs of oil detected on the shoreline of the dike are a focus of concern and that they are working hard to mitigate the damage as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, not everyone is satisfied with the efforts of cleanup. Passengers of cruise ships scheduled to leave last weekend were frustrated because of the effect on their vacation schedules. Those leaving on Sunday were pushed to at least Monday, forcing the passengers to find their own accommodations in the meantime.
Nevertheless, the main priority is to have the channel cleared as soon as possible. Texas Governor Rick Perry has even provided all necessary state resources to assist in the efforts including personnel and management assistance.