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Houston Ship Channel Closed to Vessel Movements Due to Spill

UPDATE 3/25/14 3:00 PM
VTS Houston/Galveston is now accepting the movement of outbound ships from Houston and Galveston. Inbound towing vessels from Bolivar to Houston via BRAIR. All vessels are directed to check-in on channel 5A to coordinate movement.
UPDATE 3/25/14 10:30 AM
Coast Guard reported the channel is clear from the Galveston Jetties to Fred Hartmann Bridge. – Two test runs being performed this morning. Coast Guard optimistic will be able to authorize traffic later today.
Six de-contamination stations have been set up for vessels that have been contaminated. Decontamination will take place at the vessel’s berth as much as possible.
Priority is to move clean vessels first. Vessels that are currently in the contaminated zones are requested to perform a self-assessment and report their status to Coast Guard.
The contaminated zones are the ports of Texas City, Galveston and the channels leading to those ports. In addition, Coast Guard reported that some oil did pass through the jetties and drifted to the south. Coast Guard is asking vessels anchored south of the jetties to perform a self assessment as well.
UPDATE 3/24/14 4:30 PM
The Houston Ship Channel remains closed to vessel traffic. After this morning’s optimism that traffic would begin to move soon, delays in the clean-up efforts have resulted in no authorizations for vessel movements today or tonight. We should know more tomorrow morning and will continue to update as this progresses.
Coast Guard has performed one overflight of the area this morning and reported majority of oil has been removed from the channel. A second overflight is being performed this morning. Coast Guard hopes that the channel can be opened for traffic later today after the results from the second overflight have been reviewed.
Current NE winds at 15 kts expected to subside today and this evening. 20-25 kts winds from S and SE expected Tuesday through Thursday and will increase water level in Galveston up to two feet above normal.
Coast Guard is in the process of setting up a de-contamination station for vessels that have been contaminated. Priority is to move ferries and clean vessels first. Vessels that are currently in the contaminated zones are requested to perform a self-assessment and report their status to VTS.
The contaminated zones are the ports of Texas City and Galveston and the channels leading to those ports. In addition, Coast Guard reported that some oil did pass through the jetties and drifted to the south. – Coast Guard is asking vessels anchored south of the jetties to perform a self assessment as well.
This spill is impacting container ship traffic to and from Barbours Cut and Bayport container terminals as well as other terminals located along the ship channel. We are in close contact with Port operations teams and will keep you informed as this develops further.
Below, you will find announcements from the coast guard and the Port of Houston Authority for your review.
The Coast Guard established an emergency safety zone to protect life and property from the hazards associated with and resulting from this collision, and subsequent salvage and oil spill response. This temporary emergency safety zone is enforceable beginning at 1:00 pm on 03/22/2014 through 03/29/2014, or until the oil spill is cleared from the waterway, whichever occurs first.
Statement On Houston Ship Channel Status Posted on: March 23, 2014:
As you may already be aware, on March 22, 2014, the M/V SUMMER WIND and Kirby Barge 27706 collided in the Houston Ship Channel near Texas City. You can find the Marine Safety Information Bulletin released this morning by Captain Penoyer, USCG Sector Houston-Galveston, regarding a temporary emergency safety zone that is expected to be enforced until the spill is cleared from the waterway, here.
A map showing the safety zone area is included in the information bulletin. The U.S. Coast Guard is handling coordination of spill containment and ongoing emergency response efforts.
As a result, the Houston Ship Channel is closed to vessel movements. A channel closing is always of concern to the Port of Houston Authority and to all ship channel users, including the many private facilities independently operated along the channel. It is uncertain at this time when the channel will be reopened to vessel traffic, and what, if any the financial impact will be for the private facilities or the Port of Houston Authority. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.
Inquiries regarding the incident and spill response should be directed to the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston.
We are in close contact with Port operations teams and will keep you informed as this develops further.