Efforts to contain and recover oil spilled after a collision between M/V SUMMER WIND and Kirby Barge 27706 that occurred Saturday in the Houston Ship Channel continue with an aggressive deployment of all available response resources, Sunday.
As a result, the Houston Ship Channel is closed to vessel movements. At the moment, more than 30 vessels are waiting to enter the Houston Ship Channel from the Gulf of Mexico.
However, the Coast Guard officials did allow two cruise ships to travel through the incident area by late afternoon on Sunday to minimize inconvenience to the thousands of passengers aboard and limit economic impacts from the spill, with neither vessel allowed to leave the port again until deemed safe to do so.
The primary emphasis remains the safety of response personnel working in the area and the protection of environmentally sensitive habitats, including birds and marine life.
The Unified Command, consisting of a wide variety of federal, state and local government agencies have expanded the safety zone to include all areas between Lighted Buoy 3 and Lighted Buoy 40, to prevent other vessels from interfering with the response efforts and from inadvertently facilitating the spread of oil.
So far, 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.
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 amount of released product still being assessed at this time.
uscg, March 24, 2014