Cleanup efforts are underway in Port Arthur, Texas, after a collision between several vessels there on Saturday. An estimated 450,000 gallons of oil was spilled. The U.S. Coast Guard immediately set up a perimeter around the vessels and spill area.
At about 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, vessel traffic service at Port Arthur received a report of a collision in the local waterway system. According to the Coast Guard, the vessels involved were the Dixie Vengeance (a towing vessel), two barges it was pushing, and the tank ship Eagle Otome.
The Eagle Otome is a 807-foot tank vessel designed for hauling crude oil. When the accident occurred she sustained heavy damage to her center starboard tank and began leaking oil into the local waterway system.
As a result of the collision, the Eagle Otome began leaking crude oil into the Port Arthur waterways. The Coast Guard and several agency partners including the Texas General Land Office, city of Port Arthur, and Jefferson County, Texas, are working together to deal with the situation.
The Sabine Neches Waterway is closed to all vessel traffic around the city of Port Arthur, Texas. This waterway includes the city’s river front to the intercoastal waterway system.
On Sunday morning, the vessels including the Dixie Vengeance and the two barges she was pushing, were separated from the Eagle Otome and moored against the east side of the Sebine Neches Waterway.
Eleven skimmers are on the scene attempting to reduce the environmental impact. They are conducting local operation and air-monitoring tests in order to ascertain the impact of the spill. The Texas Responder, a 210-foot oil recovery vessel has already been dispatched to the scene along with 500 in additional personnel and the Coast Guard cutter ship Manowar.
The incident couldn’t have come at a worse time. Many soldiers and volunteers are currently helping the earthquake victims in Haiti. There was no reported loss of life and only the ships and the local environment seem damaged. A wildlife rehabilitation program has been established to report any oiled wildlife.