January 24, 2010 in Nation/World

Ship collision causes oil leak at Texas port

Juan A. Lozano Associated Press
 
Julio Cortez Associated Press photo

A barge colliding with the Eagle Otome caused as much as 450,000 gallons of crude oil to spill into Port Arthur, Texas, on Saturday, the Coast Guard said.
(Full-size photo)

PORT ARTHUR, Texas – As much as 450,000 gallons of crude oil may have spilled in a southeast Texas port when two vessels collided Saturday, but it’s unclear whether that much actually leaked from the damaged tank, a U.S. Coast Guard official said.

No one was injured in the collision, but the Port of Port Arthur was closed and some nearby residents were evacuated for about seven hours.

Coast Guard officials would not say late Saturday when the size of the oil spill would be determined or how long the cleanup would take.

According to Petty Officer Richard Brahm, the ship’s crew members said they pumped 69,000 barrels from the damaged tank that carried 80,000 barrels, so they have 11,000 barrels – about 450,000 gallons – that they can’t account for.

Several local officials said only 1,000 barrels, or about 42,000 gallons, of oil had been spilled into the water.

Brahm acknowledged that it doesn’t look like hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude was in the water. He said some might still be in the damaged tank.

“We can’t get in there and look at it,” he said.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Renee Aiello said the crude spilled when an 800-foot tanker carrying oil collided with a towing vessel pushing two barges. The Coast Guard was notified of the collision around 9:50 a.m., she said.

The crash left a 15-by-8-foot hole in the tanker, Aiello said.

Brahm said the Coast Guard, which is in charge of the cleanup, had contained the spilled oil with floating plastic barriers.

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