Part of the Houston Ship Channel has been closed to marine traffic to enable response operations following the recent collision between UTV MISS SUSAN and the bulk carrier M/V SUMMER WIND approximately 100 yards off the Texas City Dike, near lights 25/26 which led to the partial sinking of the Kirby Marine tank barge.
Coast Guard inform that progress continued throughout the day Sunday in response to a bunker fuel spill in the Houston Ship Channel that resulted in the release of approximately 168,000 gallons of product. Responding agencies operating in a Unified Command structure report that more than 69,000 feet of containment boom has now been deployed on waters surrounding the incident site and along sensitive shorelines in the area. An additional 141,000 feet of boom has been staged for possible deployment.
Changing currents, winds and weather conditions have necessitated response officials to further extend containment and oil recovery plans further into the Gulf of Mexico and south along Galveston Island.
Approximately 24 response vessels are actively working to skim the oil. Importantly, responders were able to complete transferring product inside the barge’s damaged compartment to a second barge. The damaged barge was then moved to a safer location for responders until it can be removed to a local shipyard for further assessment and repair.
The Bolivar ferry remains closed to traffic, and a safety zone [see chartlet], established on Saturday to ensure the well-being of response workers and prevent the further spread of oil, has been extended from lighted buoy 40 to lighted buoy 3 on the Houston Ship Channel. This safety zone restricts the transit of vessels not involved in the response from entering the area.
Coast Guard officials did allow two cruise ships to travel through the incident area by late afternoon to minimize inconvenience to the thousands of passengers aboard and limit economic impacts from the spill. However, neither vessel will be allowed to leave the port again until deemed safe to do so.