PLEASURE ISLAND, TEXAS (KPLC) - Close to a half million gallons of crude oil spilled when a 807 foot tank ship and a towing vessel collided on Saturday. About 500 responders are working to clean up the spill. So far nearly 50,000 feet of boom have been deployed to keep the oil from spreading. Due to the proximity to Louisiana, Cameron's Emergency Operations' Director Clifton Hebert came to Port Arthur for the morning briefing. He says, "They have begun recovery operations and is well underway. The ship has been lightened. They've gotten the oil off the ship in that portion of the ship that was leaking. They've gotten that under control and right now it's just major recovery efforts on the ship channel underway."
Here in Pleasure Island between Louisiana and Port Arthur they have an oil mess to clean up. But if the weather cooperates they don't' expect the oil to get to Louisiana. Explains Hebert, "It spread from the Port Arthur Bridge south about three miles, so it looks like it covers an area of the ship channel about four to five miles. It's still several miles before it reaches the gulf, before it could impact the Louisiana state line. The wind's kind of out of the southwest today so it's in our favor, it's holding it up against the bank and in that area where they're working it so as long as the weather conditions continue to hold out and give them to skim off the rest of the oil we'll be in pretty good shape."
In the early afternoon crews could be seen spraying a huge hole in the tanker with some type of foam or sealant.. Skimming vessels can be seen throughout the area working to cleanup and contain the spill which at last word had stained an estimated nine miles of shoreline.
The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating along with the National Transportation Safety Board.
The boat launch on Highway 82 at the Causeway Bridge on the Louisiana side remains closed until further notice and will be used for emergency operations only if needed.