Galveston ferry remains closed after barge spill in Houston Ship Channel

TEXAS CITY, TX (KTRK) -- The Galveston ferry service remains shut down Sunday morning as U.S. Coast Guard crews worked overnight to contain an oil spill near Texas City.

The spill was reported yesterday afternoon after a ship collided with a barge carrying nearly a million gallons of oil. The barge was being towed from Texas City to Bolivar at the time of the crash.

Right now, police are blocking off a main road leading to the Texas City dike, as emergency crews work this morning to develop the best plan of action to tackle the major clean up in the ship channel.

The U.S. Coast Guard has just confirmed that cruise ships can't get into the port of Galveston. The port is not closed, but the ships can't get around yesterday's oil spill to dock. There's no timeline on when the ships will be able to return.

Throughout the night, a joint task force of local, state and environmental agencies have been working to contain and recover what they say is an unknown amount of bunker oil fluid that spilled into the ship channel yesterday.

Eyewitnesses say the spill happened when a tanker collided with a barge that was carrying 924,000 gallons of fuel oil from Texas City to Bolivar.

Since yesterday, crews have been setting up safety zones. They've shut down parts of the Galveston Bay and set up 90,000 feet of boom around the dike. And they have 20 ships on standby working to contain and collect the oil.

"The primary concern remains the safety of responders and the protection of the environment. To ensure the safety of response workers in the area, and to prevent the spread of oil into other areas of the channel and Galveston Bay, a safety zone has been established, which restricts vessel traffic in impacted waters. The Bolivar ferry remains closed with the exception of EMS transit," the U.S. Coast Guard said in a prepared statement.

But in addition to the cleanup, we also talked to several fisherman who are concerned about this oil spill's impact on wildlife.

"The Coast Guard told us don't eat any fish that you catch today. I don't plan on eating any fish I catch all summer long. I know they lost a lot of oil, you can just see the oil setting all the way up the channel," fisherman Geoff Roberts said.

In addition to parts of Galveston Bay being shut down, the Bolivar Ferry will also be closed until further notice.

The coast guard is urging anyone who observes any impacted wildlife to call 888-384-2000.


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