State and federal officials in Texas are struggling to contain the effects of a major oil spill, after a barge in the Houston Ship Channel collided with another ship and dumped as much as 168,000 gallons of thick oil into the water.
“It is an extremely serious spill,” Coast Guard Capt. Brian Penoyer told reporters during the initial response to the spill on Sunday. “There is a large quantity, it will spread.”
As of Monday, the channel—an important thoroughfare for ships in the area—remains closed. Other areas along the waterfront, including a popular fishing spot, have also been temporarily shut down. The channel may have also potentially endangered neighboring bird habitats.
Local tackle shops and seafood restaurants are feeling the sting from the closure of the Texas City dike, the aforementioned popular fishing spot.
“We’re dependent on weather and the dike, if you cut either of those out, we just die,” Texas City resident Victor Atkins told local station KHOU 11 News.
Coincidentally, the Houston Ship Channel incident occurred the day before the 25th anniversary of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill of 1989, when 11 million gallons of oil were dumped into the waters around the Gulf of Alaska. The residual consequences of that spill linger on, decades later.