Sabine-Neches Waterway Open, Limited Traffic

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Unified Command, consisting of the Texas General Land Office, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Eagle Otome's owner, opened the Sabine-Neches Waterway on Jan. 27 to limited traffic after moving the tank vessel Eagle Otome to the Sunoco oil terminal in Beaumont on the evening of Jan. 26.

"The Unified Command has been working closely to get the waterway back open as safely as possible," said Coast Guard Capt. J.J. Plunkett, captain of the port and federal on-scene coordinator for the response. "We are doing everything we can to provide much-needed relief to the region's four large refineries."

Three tugs escorted the Eagle Otome, while two boats carried boom to prevent further spillage and a fire fighting barge was on scene to prevent any fires. Two pilots were on board the ship to further ensure its safe transit to Beaumont.

Crews began unloading the Eagle Otome's remaining 570,000 barrels of oil from the ship's undamaged cargo tanks at approximately 4 a.m. Jan. 27. An estimated 462,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled into the waterway as a result of the collision between the Eagle Otome and the Dixie Vengeance, which was pushing two barges. Unified Command responders have recovered an estimated 534, 000 gallons of oil/water mixture. They continue to work in the waterway to recover the remaining oil.

Lightering operations for the barges that were being pushed by the towing vessel Dixie Vengeance, as well as the tank vessel Eagle Otome were completed the night of Jan. 25.

•    Six oiled birds have been reported - a cormorant, two pelicans and a heron are being treated and cleaned. One cormorant and one kingfisher were found dead.
•    65 vessels are on scene, including skimmers, barges and boats deploying boom.
•    61,850 feet of boom has been deployed.
•    The Texas Responder and the Gulf Coast Responder, both 210-ft oil recovery vessels, are on scene.
•    More than 899 people are responding.
•    Approximately 9 miles of shoreline were impacted by the spill.
•    No injuries have been reported.
•    To report oiled wildlife please contact 1-888-709-9798. The public should not attempt to capture any oiled wildlife.
•    A claims number has been established for this incident. To report a claim, please call 866-310-3831.

The Coast Guard is conducting a joint investigation with the NTSB into the incident, and all parties are fully participating.

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