Putting CITGO's oil spill in perspective - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Putting CITGO's oil spill in perspective

June 27, 2006
Reported by Rhonda Kitchens

The United States Coast Guard says several Southwest Louisiana waterways are now affected by oil spilled from CITGO's Lake Charles facility.

"You have the Calcasieu River, the primary ship channel which has been affected, also Prien Lake, Moss Lake, and Lake Calcasieu, extending pretty much all the way down to the nine mile cut," USCG Operations Team member Chris Kimrey said.

And he says it may continue to flow even farther south. "It's hard to tell," he said. "These things are tricky."

Many call the spill a man-made devastation rivaling Hurricane Rita. The difference, however, is this time Mother Nature has been on our side.

"The weather's actually been very cooperative," Kimrey said but even under the best circumstances clean-up is a slow process. And now into day eight it remains slow-going for barges and ships attempting to navigate the area.

"The ship channel is still currently closed," he said, "however we are making an attempt to facilitate commerce and as ops permit we are allowing some movement on a case by case basis."

But CITGO admits massive amounts of oil, up to 18,000 barrels, are involved. To put the amount into some perspective, each barrell holds 42 gallons of oil so if 18,000 spilled out into Southwest Louisiana waterways you're talking about 756,000 gallons.

"We have operations crews spotting from the skies and also the waterways, determining where the oil is forecast to head and we're trying to stay one step ahead of the game," Kimrey said. 

A game that may take some time to play itself out.

To follow the movement of oil from your home click here

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