Oil spill responders have established a Matagorda Bay Forward Branch in Port O’Connor, Texas, to coordinate protection of the environment in the Matagorda Bay area. This has been done as a portion of the oil spilled on Saturday in a ship-barge collision in the Houston Ship Channel near Texas City, Texas, moves south along the Texas coast.
While a notable portion of the approximately 168,000 gals. of the marine fuel oil has been removed by responders in the Texas City-Galveston area, an area of floating oil approximately 15 miles off Matagorda Island is expected to be pushing shoreward by the weather over the next 24 to 48 hours.
A Unified Command including the U.S Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office and Kirby Inland Marine, the owner of the tank barge from which the oil was spilled, began their response efforts yesterday implementing aggressive plans intended to protect environmentally sensitive areas against impact from the oil, based on priorities already established in the Area Contingency Plan. Response actions are focused on placing protective boom along the sensitive areas along the coast of Matagorda Island, including Sundown Island.
Approximately 150 response personnel, utilizing 11 response vessels, are actively working to deploy over 50,000′ of protective boom today. In addition, responders currently have staged 40,000′ of absorbent boom, with another 45,000′ en route to Port O’Connor.
As access to Matagorda Island is by boat, members of the public are discouraged from accessing the island until the Unified Command announces that response operations are complete.
Mariners are advised the safety zone for the “Texas City Y” incident remains in effect as follows:
The safety zone encompasses the Houston Ship Channel from Galveston Bay Entrance Channel Lighted Buoy liB to Light 44, the Texas City Channel from Lighted Buoy 1 to Light 17, the Galveston Channel from Lighted Buoy 1 to the Pelican Is Bridge, and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from Bolivar Light 14 to Galveston Freeport Cut off Channel B 20.
The safety zone will remain in effect until further notice. Mariners are advised to monitor VHF Ch. 16 for the most current broadcast notice to mariners.
The COTP has authorized limited movement through the safety zone to commercial vessels including commercial fishing vessels from sunrise to sunset. Due to forecasted unfavorable tidal and weather conditions, vessel movements were authorized until midnight on March 26, 2014. Reevaluation ofthe extent of the oil proliferation, recovery operations and safety of personnel will be conducted and the approved operational transit times will be adjusted accordingly and disseminated via Broadcast Notice to Mariners. At this time, this authorization does not extend to charter vessels, small passenger vessels and recreational vessels to allow for continued response, salvage and limited resumption of critical marine traffic. Un-oiled commercial fishing vessels may transit the safety zone. However, no fishing activities are permitted within the safety zone.
Mariners are advised to self-report hull oiling to the Unified Command at 832-244-1870. Oiled vessels currently anchored or moored within the safety zone must be cleared by the UC prior to movement. Mariners are advised to report sightings of a sheen or oil in the water to the NRC at 800-424-8802. For questions regarding this MSIB contact Marine Transportation System Recovering Unit at 713-858-2290.
Wildlife Response Service, a Texas-based wildlife rehabilitation service, has been deployed to assist in the event that birds or marine life are impacted by the oil. Persons who observe any impacted wildlife should not attempt to capture or handle them but are urged to call 888-384-2000. No reports of affected wildlife have been received.
A claims number has been established for persons who may have questions in regard to personal impact by the incident. The number is 855-276-1575.