Despite earlier optimism of the coordinating agencies, the Houston Ship Channel remains closed to vessel traffic.
U.S. authorities continue cleanup operations of the major Texas shipping channel, with 27 response vessels actively working to skim and recover oil with more than 539 personnel on-scene.
According to the latest Coast Guard report, there are 46 outbound vessels and 47 inbound vessels in the queue for transit in the Port of Houston. So far, only the Galveston Bolivar ferry has been given permission to operate and will be running between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Due to the fact that more and more vessels are trying to move into or out of the Gulf of Mexico, shipping delays forced Exxon Mobil Corp to cut production at its Baytown, Texas, refinery. The company expects further production cuts by mid-week if the channel remains shut, reported Reuters.
As of yesterday, more than 71,000 feet of containment boom have been deployed on waters surrounding the incident site and along sensitive shorelines in the area. An additional 192,500 feet of boom has been staged for possible deployment and another 20,680 feet ordered.
At the moment, there is no clear sign when the channel could be reopened for traffic, but according to the warning issued by the Coast Guard on Sunday, portions of the Houston channel and its offshoots to Texas City and Galveston, Texas, along with a portion of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, could be closed through March 29 or longer, depending on the requirements of a cleanup.
The Houston Ship Channel was closed on Saturday following a collision between a Kirby Inland Marine oil barge and a cargo ship (Kirby Barge 27706 and M/V SUMMER WIND), spilling some 168,000 gallons (636,000 liters) of residual fuel oil.
WMN Staff, March 25, 2014