Response efforts continue on Matagorda Island and Padre Island National Seashore

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PORT O’CONNOR, Texas — Crews responding to the March 22 oil spill in southeast Texas made new progress along the shores of south Matagorda and Mustang Islands and at Padre Island National Seashore (PINS) on Wednesday, despite high tides that limited work in some areas.

From supply and personnel staging areas in Port O’Connor and at Mustang Island, approximately 300 workers continued removing oiled debris and oiled sand using conventional tools such as rakes, shovels and buckets.  Crews on PINS were able to facilitate their progress with small tractors as well.

The work of these field response teams is supported by approximately 115 other personnel at the Incident Command post at Port O’Connor, Texas. Thirty public and non-profit agencies are working in a coordinated effort under the leadership of the United States Coast Guard and Texas General Land Office to contain and recover the remnants of 168,000 gallons of oil that was spilled from a damaged barge in the Houston Ship Channel.

A crew member displays a clump of tar recovered during clean-up operations at the beaches of National Seashore Park April 2, 2014. Local, state and federal agencies are working together to remove any materials containing oil that may have washed up ashore. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Carlos Vega)

A crew member displays a clump of tar recovered during clean-up operations at the beaches of National Seashore Park April 2, 2014. . (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Carlos Vega)

Residents, tourists and others who may observe tar balls are urged to refrain from attempting their own clean-up activities and are asked to call 361-939-6349 to report the exact locations of any sightings.  Persons who may be physically impacted by the oil should take quick action to wash the affected area with soap and warm water. The public is discouraged from accessing Matagorda Island until the Unified Command announces that response operations are complete.

While oil recovery work on the water has been suspended, reconnaissance continues further south all the way to Brownsville, Texas.  More than 225 miles of Texas coastline is being monitored for any potential impact.

Throughout the day wildlife experts from Texas Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife continued to monitor the status of wildlife including Whooping Cranes and other endangered species.  To date there are no reports of impacts on these species, and updated statistics on any other wildlife impacts were not available as of 4 p.m. today.

Persons who observe any impacted wildlife should not attempt to capture or handle them but are urged to call 888-384-2000.

Calhoun County residents will have an opportunity to engage members of the Unified Command at an informational session to take place on Thursday, April 3, at the Port O’Connor Elementary School, 508 Monroe Avenue.

County and city officials, their Emergency Management Coordinators, and port officials and state agencies continued to exchange information daily through  stakeholder telephone briefings.

A claims line has been established for persons who may have questions regarding personal impacts from the incident. The number is 855-276-1275.  Please note that a previously published number is no longer operational.

Click the photo for more pictures.

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