Cleanup Continues After Oil Spill Near Houston Ship Channel
This post was updated at 4:47 p.m. ET.
The cleanup of an oil spill near the Houston Ship Channel is continuing today, and authorities say they have opened one of the country's biggest ports in a limited capacity this afternoon.
As we reported, a collision between two vessels spilled about 168,000 gallons in an area close to a nature preserve. The spill also happened at a bad time, when more than 100 species of birds are resting, foraging or breeding in the sanctuary.
"Officials believe most of the oil that spilled Saturday is drifting out of the channel into the Gulf of Mexico, which should limit the impact on bird habitats around Galveston Bay as well as beaches and fisheries important to tourists.
" 'This spill — I think if we keep our fingers crossed — is not going to have the negative impact that it could have had,' said Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, the lead state agency on the response to the spill.
"The best-case scenario is for most of the slick to remain in the Gulf for at least several days and congeal into small tar balls that wash up further south on the Texas coast, where they could be picked up and removed, Patterson said."
Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle reports charter fishing businesses and other individuals in Galveston Bay have filed a class-action lawsuit against the owners of the vessels, saying they've suffered losses because of the spill.
The paper reports:
"The defendants failed to exercise reasonable care to ensure that oil would 'expeditiously and adequately' be contained in the immediate vicinity of the ships in the event of a collision, the complaint states.
"The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys' fees and other unspecified relief. "