GALVESTON, TEX., JULY 29 -- A 50,000-gallon oil slick from a collision-ruptured barge in Galveston Bay moved away from shore today as cleanup crews tried to deflect the five-mile-long patch from sensitive marshlands, the Coast Guard said.
The nearly sunken barge is one of two damaged Saturday in a collision with the Liberian oil tanker Shinoussa in the Houston Ship Channel. The barges were among three being towed by the tugboat Chandy N. The tug was undamaged, as was one of the barges, and no injuries were reported.
Crews worked today to contain the spilling oil as the ship channel remained closed.
"The oil is traveling away from shore," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Dennis Schaefer.
Schaefer said salvage crews were working to right the nearly sunken barge while tugboats surrounded the second barge to keep it afloat.
Booms were placed around both barges to contain spilling oil. Together, the two were carrying 1.76 million gallons of "catfeed oil," a No. 5 heavy crude used in refining, Schaefer said.
The 601-foot tanker, carrying 29,400 metric tons of jet fuel, remained anchored, Schaefer said. Although the collision left a gash in its hull, the vessel didn't leak because of its double hull. The 27,793-ton Shinoussa was built this year, he said.
Texas Water Commission Chairman B.J. "Buck" Wynne III said there was some difficulty getting booms in place in the bay because of the shallows surrounding the channel.
"It's in the open bay and we're quite concerned about that, although this is not a relatively big spill," Wynne said. "There are some very sensitive estuary areas in Galveston Bay and they could be threatened."