Oil spilled from a barge in Galveston Bay, blocking the busy Houston ship channel and threatening some birds at a nearby wildlife sanctuary, officials and environmentalists said.
U.S. Coast Guard officials said as much as 168,000 gallons of oil may have spilled.
Michael Lambert, spokesman for Galveston County Office of Emergency Management, called it a “significant spill,” but not based on the amount of oil.
“The real issue is that it’s in the ship channel, near environmentally sensitive areas. So there’s an economic impact and an environmental impact,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
Crews were skimming oil and laying absorbent booms to contain the spread of the spill, which occurred in the channel that runs between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, Lambert said
Containing the spill is likely to take days, he said.
Coast Guard port captain Brian Penoyer said at a Sunday news briefing that oil had been spotted a dozen miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
He said the spill blocked about about 60 vessels, including cruise ships, from transiting the channel, one of the world's busiest petrochemical transport routes.
Penoyer said all of the remaining oil had been removed from the damaged barge and the barge had been taken out of the channel. He did not say when the channel would reopen.]
On Sunday, the spill prevented dozens of ships, including a few cruise ships, from transiting the channel, one of the world's busiest petrochemical transport routes.
The spill comes on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the massive Exxon oil spill in Valdez, Alaska, that took a devastating toll on wildlife. That spill involved 10 million gallons of oil.