Traffic Restricted on HSC Due to Oil Spill

Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Vessel traffic on the Houston Ship Channel (HSC) remains limited while commercial contractors cleanup approximately 2,000 gallons of fuel oil that spilled Sunday. Today the Coast Guard has only allowed certain kinds of vessels to pass through the area, such as small tugs and barges. Larger deep-draft vessels will be allowed to pass once the Coast Guard has concluded that the cleanup operations are not impacted by passing vessels. U.S. Coast Guard investigators are also continuing to monitor the cleanup and are investigating the cause of the accident. The ship channel was initially closed after the Coast Guard received a report that fuel oil had spilled from a barge about 4 a.m. Sunday during bunkering operations near the Kinder Morgan facility in Galena Park, Texas.

At about 10:30 a.m., a contracted diver found a 1-foot-6-inch hole in one of the tanks on the barge. The hole was repaired with a temporary patch and the remaining oil was transferred to another vessel. The Coast Guard reopened the ship channel to slow-moving traffic at 1:40 p.m. Sunday, but had to close it again at 6:30 p.m. Monday when it was discovered that the wake from the passing vessels was impacting the cleanup operations. Garner Environmental and the Texas General Land Office are continuing cleanup operations today between the Lyondell-Citgo and Kinder-Morgan docks.

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