Tuesday November 24th, 2015 9:17PM

Crews mopping up oil spill in Texas' Galveston Bay

By The Associated Press
TEXAS CITY, Texas (AP) -- The cleanup of an unknown amount of thick, sticky oil in Galveston Bay continued Sunday, a day after a barge carrying nearly a million gallons of fuel collided with a ship.

Crews are skimming oil out of the water and booms have been brought in to protect environmentally sensitive areas of the Houston shipping channel, Coast Guard Petty Officer Andy Kendrick said Sunday morning. The area is a popular bird habitat, especially during the approaching migratory shorebird season, and Kendrick said there have been no reports of impact on wildlife.

The spill was reported at around 12:30 p.m. Saturday by the captain of the 585-foot ship, Summer Wind.

The collision was still being investigated, Kendrick said, and the remaining oil is being moved off of the damaged barge, which carrying 924,000 gallons of marine fuel oil, also known as special bunker.

Officials still believe that just one of the barge's tanks was breached; the tank had a capacity of 168,000 gallons. On Saturday, there was a visible sheen of oil at the scene. Kendrick said it isn't clear how much oil spilled into the bay.

"A large amount of that has been discharged," Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Kristopher Kidd said Saturday.

The barge was being towed from Texas City to Bolivar at the time of the collision. Six crew members from the tow vessel were in stable condition, but it offered no details about their injuries.

The Coast Guard said that Kirby Inland Marine, which owns the tow vessel and barge, is working with the Texas General Land Office and many other federal, state and nonprofit agencies to respond to the spill. Tara Kilgore, an operations coordinator with Kirby Inland Marine, declined to comment Saturday.

Jim Suydam, spokesman for the Texas' General Land Office, described the type of oil the barge was carrying as "sticky, gooey, thick, tarry stuff."

"That stuff is terrible to have to clean up," he said.

Suydam said almost every private cleanup outfit in the area was out there helping out under the coordination of the Coast Guard and General Land Office.

Bruce Clawson, the director of the Texas City Homeland Security, told The Daily News in Galveston that the barge sank, but that there is no danger to the community, which is about 40 miles southeast of downtown Houston. Suydam said he could not confirm whether the barge sank.

The affected part of the Houston ship channel is closed to traffic, the Coast Guard said.

Richard Gibbons, the conservation director of the Houston Audubon Society, said there is important shorebird habitat on both sides of the ship channel. One is the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary just to the east, which Gibbons said attracts 50,000 to 70,000 shorebirds to shallow mud flats that are perfect foraging habitat.

"The timing really couldn't be much worse since we're approaching the peak shorebird migration season," Gibbons said. He added that tens of thousands of wintering birds remain in the area.

Monday marks the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska. Suydam said that spill spurred the creation of the General Land Office's Oil Spill and Prevention Division, which is funded by a tax on imported oil that the state legislature passed after the Valdez spill.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 10 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 10 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 10 months ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 10 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 10 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 10 months ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 10 months ago )
Local/State News
The Latest: UN Security Council strongly condemns 'horrifying' attack in Mali, urges probe
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The latest on the attack on a hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. (All times local):___4:55 a.m.The U.N. Security Council is condemning "the horrifying terrorist attack" at the...
10:58PM ( 3 days ago )
World leaders vow vigorous response to Paris terror spree, but little indication of next steps
ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — World leaders vowed a vigorous response to the Islamic State group's terror spree in Paris as they opened a two-day meeting in Turkey on Sunday, with President Barack Obama call...
2:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Rash of E. coli cases in Pacific Northwest highlights problem of foodborne illnesses
SEATTLE (AP) — As Chipotle prepares to reopen its restaurants in the Pacific Northwest this week after an E. coli outbreak that sickened about 45 people, health experts say foodborne illnesses are mor...
1:40AM ( 1 week ago )
Biden says he will not run for president in 2016, finalizing field of Democratic candidates
Vice President Joe Biden will not run for president in 2016, he said Wednesday, ending a months-long flirtation with a third White House campaign and setting him on a glide path toward the end of his decades-long political career.
1:34PM ( 1 month ago )
UN is next stop for Obama after success with Iran, pope; top issues are IS, Syria, Russia
NEW YORK (AP) — Fresh from successes on Iran and with the pope, President Barack Obama still carried heavy burdens into critical meetings this week at the U.N. General Assembly.They include the threat...
3:31PM ( 1 month ago )