The Captain of the Port of Houston/Galveston has opened the bay to all traffic Thursday after multiple cleanup assessments and input from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
A current Broadcast Notice to Mariners instructs all boaters that the safety zone remains in affect, however all restrictions are lifted except to transit using safe distance and minimum safe speeds in the vicinity of any oil spill response or salvage operations and to avoid all areas of sheening or visible oil. If any oil is sighted, boaters should report it to the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.
While all recreational activities, including swimming is open, the DSHS does advise people not to swim in areas where they can see oil.
The DSHS stated that there is no indication that seafood in the marketplace has been impacted by the oil spill. For more information please visit www.dshs.state.tx.us/news/updates.shtm.
After storms Wednesday afternoon and evening slowed cleanup efforts somewhat in the Ports of Texas City and Galveston because of safety concerns, responders quickly ramped up their operations during the first hours of daylight to resume cleaning contaminated areas, Thursday.
The rough weather is expected to continue to subside throughout the rest of the week, and into the weekend, allowing responders to continue cleanup efforts. Mariners are also advised as they are transiting through the port to keep a watchful eye out for protective boom and other response equipment floating in their path. If found, please report the hazard to navigation to the Coast Guard on VHF Ch. 16.
Weather conditions closed 5 of the 6 decontamination stations established for boats in the area, Wednesday evening, but all reopened as the weather calmed today. Forty vessels in total have been cleaned since Saturday’s spill, with 62 more in queue.
A vessel decontamination plan has been formulated to assist vessels that may have been impacted by oil. The sites of the stations are Pelican Cut, Galveston and Bolivar. To schedule a vessel decontamination call (832)-244-1870.
A second Incident Command Post was established in Port O’Connor, Texas, Wednesday, and are directly responding to any possible local area impact. For more information, contact the Matagorda Bay Joint Information Center at (214) 225-8007.
Volunteers are expected to begin being utilized Friday morning. 949 volunteers registered to help search the shorelines for pockets of oil, birds or other wildlife that may have been affected by the spill. These volunteers will report this information to the Unified Command, who will then send response crews with proper training and equipment.
Wildlife responders currently include experts from U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and are responding with rehabilitation, husbandry and stabilization trailers staged along the Texas City Dike, Bolivar Peninsula and the Phoenix Pollution Control Facility. Responders have found 45 birds that were dead on arrival to the stabilization trailers, and they are currently rehabilitating 12 birds.
The Coast Guard investigation into the incident is ongoing.