Crews work to clean up fuel spill at Texas City Dike

August 20, 2011 4:55:43 PM PDT
Crews are working to contain a fuel spill that happened at the Texas City BP dock Friday.

It happened around 5:30pm. About 50 barrels of fuel spilled into the water. The Texas City Dike was closed Friday night at 8pm as a precaution, but reopened Saturday around 9:30am.

Environmental assessments thus far yield no threat to wildlife or humans, according to Richard Arnhart, regional director with the Texas General Land Office.

With the sun pounding above, there were few breaks Saturday for the men charged with cleaning the spill?

About 2,100 gallons of oil spilled into the channel -- about what an average swimming pool can hold. Officials say it could take up to a week to clean.

The leak happened at Dock 34, which is owned by BP. Officials still aren't sure how it happened, but they know something went wrong while oil was being transferred from the dock to storage tanks on a barge.

Buffalo Marine Service owns the barge. Another company-- AccuTrans-- was carrying out the transfer. According to officials, Buffalo Marine Service has been named as the responsible party in this incident.

Bunker oil, known as No. 6 oil, has a jelly-like consistency. Experts consider it a refined, lighter fuel that's less like thick tar, making clean-up easier.

Still, crews are using multi-faceted effort -- including skimmers, absorbents and vacuum trucks -- to collect what they can.

Orange containment booms prevent the oil from spreading.

Fishermen were corralled to one corner of the dike, opposite the spill site.

In the meantime, the state and U.S. Coast Guard continue monitoring any threat to animals that may come in contact with the gummy oil. Officials are banking on heat to help speed up the evaporation process.

There is a strong odor in the area. Officials say it's the smell of hydrocarbon, similar to what you smell when you fill up your gas tank.

So far, readings don't indicate any hazard, but folks are being kept away from the immediate area.

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