A 585ft bulk carrier Summer Wind and a barge carrying 924,000gal of fuel oil collided near Texas City, in the Houston Ship Channel on 22 March, resulting in the release of approximately 168,000gal of fuel oil into the water.
According to reports from the US Coast Guard, the barge was being towed by the motor vessel Miss Susan, which was travelling from Texas City to Bolivar.
Kirby Inland Marine, the owner of Miss Susan, has activated an emergency response plan and is working with the US Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office, Galveston County Office and a wide variety of federal, state and local government agencies and non-profit organisations to control and clean-up the oil spill.
The unified command has temporarily suspended the marine traffic in the Houston Ship Channel from the Intracoastal Waterway to lighter buoy 32, for the safety of responders and protection of the environment.
They have also created a safety zone to ensure the protection of workers in the area and to prevent further spreading of oil to other areas of the channel. The zone will restrict vessel movement in the affected area.
Wildlife Response Services, a Texas-based wildlife rehabilitation service, has been deployed after several reports that birds have been impacted by the spill.
The team has so far deployed more than 69,000ft of containment boom on the water surrounding the incident site and along the sensitive shorelines, with further plans to deploy 141,000ft of boom.
Around 24 response vessels are currently working to skim the oil.
Image: A barge loaded with marine fuel oil sits partially submerged in the Houston Ship Channel after the collision. Photo: courtesy of US Department of Homeland Security.