Unified command continues response to oil spill in Port Arthur

PORT ARTHUR, Texas – Responders from the Unified Command established to clean up the oil spill here recovered an estimated 46,200 gallons of spilled oil as of Sunday afternoon.

Fifteen skimming vessels continue to comb the waterway and recover more oil, and there are about 500 responders working both in the field and at the command post. They have deployed 45,800 feet of boom to contain the estimated 462,000 gallons of crude that spilled after a collision between a towing vessel and an 807-foot tank ship on Saturday.

The safety zone established in the Sabine-Neches Waterway now extends from the North Forty at the northern tip of Pleasure Island to Texas Point by the Sabine River jetties. No vessel may enter the safety zone without the permission of the Captain of the Port or his designee. This restricts all recreational and commercial vessels from transiting the area.

West-to-northwest winds and strong ebb currents are expected to move oil south of Mesquite Point over the next 24-36 hours.

Therefore, the Captain of the Port recommends that vessels south of Mesquite Point and not yet impacted by the oil take all prudent precautions to minimize and mitigate potential impacts should the oil move further south as expected. Precautions may include sailing vessels moored to an alternate port or booming vessel and facilities structures. Facilities should make alternate berthing arrangements for vessels bound for the Sabine-Neches Waterway.

Vessels desiring to depart from unaffected portions of Sabine Pass Channel must obtain permission from the Captain of the Port and should contact VTS Port Arthur at (409) 719-5070 or VHF-FM channels 01A or 65A.

All of the boat ramps south of the Sabine-Neches River to the Sabine River jetties are also closed.

There is no identified impact to any area marshes, but responders continue to monitor ecologically sensitive sites along the waterway. Responders recovered one oiled bird, a heron, on Sunday and are investigating reports of other oiled birds.

To report oiled or injured wildlife, please contact Rhonda Morgatroyd at (409) 719-5074. Members of the public should not attempt to capture any oiled wildlife.

The Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board are conducting a joint investigation into the cause of the incident, and all parties are fully cooperating.

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