Update: Response Efforts Continue on South Matagorda Island
As of sunset Friday, response workers have removed a total of 200,775 pounds of oiled sand and oiled debris from the shorelines of Mustang, North Padre and South Matagorda islands. These figures include 102,700 pounds of oiled material from Mustang Island, 93,550 pounds from South Matagorda and 4,525 pounds from shoreline around Bob Hall pier.
Approximately 470 response workers remain active on the coastal shorelines, supported by another 78 persons staffing the Incident Command Post in Port O’Connor.
“Response crews have overcome a series of logistical and environmental challenges to implement an effective and efficient clean-up effort while being acutely sensitive to the fragile wildlife habitat they are working in,” said Capt. Randal S. Ogryzdiak, Incident Commander. “The Unified Command is pleased with the progress to date, but recognizes there is still important work ahead to complete our clean-up to the satisfaction of the trustees who oversee these environmental, marine and wildlife resources.”
Matagorda Island is a unit of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, the winter home of the only naturally wild flock of whooping cranes in existence. Reduced to 50 birds in 1941, the population has grown approximately four percent every year since recovery efforts began and is currently estimated to be 300 birds. The birds migrate 2,500 miles every winter from Wood-Buffalo National Park in Canada to feed in the Aransas' refuge's freshwater and brackish marshes.
Approximately 30 percent of the population has begun migration and precautions are being taken to ensure the remaining birds on Matagorda Island are not disturbed by clean-up operations. Whooping cranes are one of the rarest birds in North America.
Aggressive work along South Matagorda Island continues using a combination of light mechanical equipment and manual tools which include shovels, rakes and buckets.
There are no new reports of impacted and recovered wildlife. However, persons who observe any impacted wildlife should not attempt to capture or handle them, but are urged to call 888-384-2000.
On Saturday afternoon, U. S. Representative Blake Farenthold toured the Incident Command Post and received a comprehensive briefing on response activities and plans. Congressman Farenthold also participated in an overflight of the south Texas coast to see first-hand the response in action and the condition of coastal shorelines.
The Unified Command continues to work with the Texas Department of Health Services to distribute informational bulletins in both Spanish and English, which detail state policy on the algae-related closures of oyster beds along the Texas coast.
Persons who may observe tar balls are urged to refrain from attempting their own clean-up activities and are asked to call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 to report the exact locations of any sightings. The public is discouraged from accessing Matagorda Island until the Unified Command announces that response operations are complete.
The Kirby Inland Marine claims line is available to persons who may have questions regarding personal impacts from the incident. The number is 855-276-1275.