An 800-foot tanker collided with a towing vessel and released thousands of gallons of crude oil into a waterway at Port Arthur, Texas, causing the worst oil spill in more than 15 years.
AP reported that the collision left a 15-by-8-foot hole in the tanker and damaged one of its tanks resulting in the spill. No-one was harmed in the accident. The spill has been contained to a 2 mile radius along the Sabine Neches Waterway and no wildlife is believed to have been effected. A clean-up operation is now underway.
About 462,000 gallons of oil spilled when the tanker, headed for an Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in Beaumont, collided Saturday with a vessel pushing two barges. As of Monday, roughly 220,000 gallons of oil had evaporated or dispersed, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
No injuries have been reported, but Port Arthur residents were evacuated after the spill while officials tested the air quality. So far only two oil-covered birds have been reported; one of them was captured and cleaned up, and the other flew away.
Saturday morning’s collision ripped a 15-by-8-foot hole in the hull of the Eagle Otome, which was loaded with Mexican crude oil intended for a Beaumont Exxon refinery. The crash dumped 462,000 gallons of oil into the intracoastal waterway in what Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said was the biggest Texas oil spill since 1994.
The slick spanned a stretch of seven or eight miles of waterway, threatening marshlands that serve as nurseries for juvenile shrimp and fish.
By this morning, officials said nearly half of the oil was out of the water. About 46,200 gallons have been recovered, and nearly 174,000 gallons is thought to have evaporated or dissipated.
More than 550 people were working on the spill this morning, with 15 skimmers and four barges available to store recovered oil. Crews are lightering the barges this morning, and workers were planning to start lightering the tanker itself later today.
The Sabine-Neches Waterway was closed to boat traffic from the Gulf of Mexico.
Officials warned that, aside from the cost of cleanup, keeping the channel closed would mean an economic impact of roughly $200 million per day beginning today. Crews worked around the clock to minimize the delay, and officials expected to allow essential traffic through the channel within several days.