An "extremely serious" oil spill in a Texas shipping channel Saturday has halted movement through the busy area.
"The barge collided with a cargo ship, Summer Wind."
"It's an extremely serious spill, this is a persistent oil. There's a large quantity. It will spread... This will take time." (Via KHOU)
How much time is still unclear as authorities investigate the cause of the collision. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates more than 160,000 of gallons of oil have leaked into the water from a single tank that was breached. Pictures show the barge is currently sitting partially submerged in the Houston Ship Channel. (Via U.S. Coast Guard)
The channel connects Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. As of Sunday there were reportedly three cruise ships and dozens of other vessels waiting to either enter or leave the closed channel. KTRK talked to a Coast Guard spokesman (via KPRC) who said, "It's aware of the situation and they're working to address it and information about how they're going to address it will be forthcoming." (Via KTRK)
Although the closure is an inconvenience to many, the main concern for authorities right now is containing the spill and keeping it from seeping into the gulf.
"A region still recovering from the massive BP oil spill and home to wildlife and popular fishing spots... Federal, state and local agencies launched a massive effort to bring in containment booms to skim the leaking oil sheen visible on the surface." (Via ABC)
Altogether the barge was carrying almost a million gallons of fuel, and crews are working to pump the remaining oil out of the barge. Two people sustained minor injuries during the initial collision.