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Galveston Bay Oil Spill: Texas City "Y" Response Unified Command
Editor's Note: Matagorda Island is a mostly unpopulated offshore island in Calhoun County,TX, where HNN contributor David M. Kinchen has lived since July 2008. He lives in the county's largest city, Port Lavaca, population 13,000* * *
Oil spill responders from the Matagorda Incident Command Post in Port O’Connor, Texas, continued to implement their aggressive plans, Saturday, March 29, 2014 to protect environmentally sensitive Matagorda Bay against impact from a portion of the oil spilled in the ship-barge collision near Texas City, and to anticipate potential impacts further south on the Texas coast.
The Unified Command has deployed equipment on the sandy beaches of south Matagorda Island to begin cleanup operations. Task force teams will manually cleanup oil with rakes, shovels and buckets on the 24 miles of beach line from the Matagorda Island State Park.
Crews continue to position equipment and gear on the island. Logistics of transporting ATVs, gear and personnel are challenging, as the only access to the island is by vessel and barge. Crews are overcoming the logistical challenge with great emphasis on limiting environmental impact to the fragile ecosystem.
In a proactive move, the Unified Command, comprised of the Texas General Land Office, Kirby Inland Marine and U.S. Coast Guard, disseminated accurate and timely information to stakeholders in a teleconference briefing for elected local, county and state officials, emergency management coordinators, and port authorities from counties south of Matagorda Island.
Crews are removing boom and have cleared Saluria Bayou and Big Bayou along Pass Cavallo, as well as areas of Matagorda Bay. Removal of boom will continue tomorrow around Bird Island. Mariners should monitor Marine Safety Information Broadcasts issued by Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi for updated information regarding navigation in the affected area.
Members of the public are discouraged from accessing Matagorda Island until the Unified Command announces that response operations are complete.
The Texas Department of Health tested and confirmed that samples taken yesterday in the Matagorda Bay are in fact biological in origin and are not related to the oil.
A wildlife rehabilitation facility has been established in Port O’Connor at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Coastal Fisheries Laboratory, to assist in the event that birds or marine life are impacted by the oil. Persons who observe any impacted wildlife should not attempt to capture or handle them but are urged to call 888-384-2000.
A claims number has been established for persons who may have questions in regard to personal impact by the incident. The number is 855-276-1575.
For more information, contact the Matagorda Bay joint information center at 214-225-8007.
For more information contact:
Texas City Y Response JIC
Galveston Island Convention Center
5600 Seawall Blvd.
Galveston, TX 77554