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Oil cleanup begins in Port O'Connor

By Melissa Crowe
March 28, 2014 at 10:03 a.m.
Updated March 27, 2014 at 10:28 p.m.

The coast guard dispatched over 150 people plus numerous contractors like Russell Allen with Miller Environmental Services to help deploy booms into Matagorda Bay. A command center has been setup in Pot O'Connor to assess there threat from an oil slick moving south in the Gulf of Mexico, from Houston. Federal and state agencies have deployed containment booms to head off the spill which could threaten the Chester Island bird sanctuary.

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Driven by winds and seas from the southeast, oil made landfall Thursday on 12 miles of Matagorda Island beach.

Responders from the Incident Command Post Matagorda in Port O'Connor are implementing an aggressive plan intended to protect environmentally sensitive areas of the bay area against impact from a portion of the oil spilled in a ship-barge collision Saturday near Texas City.

At first light Friday, responders in Port O'Connor began aggressively attacking the oil on the beach. The area is only accessible by boat through shallow waters of the inshore bays, which could present logistical challenges.

Members of the public are discouraged from accessing the island until the Unified Command announces that response operations are complete, according to a news release from Texas City Y Response.

As of Thursday night, there was "no known environmental impact" to Matagorda Bay, said Mike Cox, a spokesman with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

"Yesterday the oil was still coming in, today is more about assessing what's going on," he said.

The Unified Command including the U.S Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office and Kirby Inland Marine, took action Wednesday in anticipation of the potential impact on those sensitive areas, based on priorities already established in the Area Contingency Plan along the coast of the Matagorda Peninsula, Matagorda Island and Sundown Island, according to a news release from Texas City Y Response.

Protective booming across Saluria Bayou and Big Bayou appears to have been effective in preventing incursion of oil into Espiritu Santo Bay, according to that report.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects much of the oil will be stranded on the Matagorda Island beach, and will employ overflight observations to determine whether any oil remaining offshore may move.

About 150 field response personnel using 12 response vessels worked steadily to deploy and adjust more than 16,000 feet of protective boom. They are supported by 96 personnel in the command post. In addition, responders have staged 48,600 feet of containment boom and 80,000 feet of absorbent boom.

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