New estimates: Diesel spill smaller than first thought, cleanup continues

PORT ISABEL — Coast Guard officials say less diesel fuel spilled than first thought from a barge that hit a dock in the area.

According to a news release, about 5,000 gallons leaked, not the 20,000 first believed.

A Coast Guard statement originally estimated Tuesday night’s fuel spill on the Intracoastal Waterway near Port Isabel at about 20,000 gallons.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there are approximately 1,000 gallons of diesel that have not been recovered.

Response crews continue using absorbent pads, absorbent boom, shore-side skimming drums and vacuum trucks to collect the remaining diesel, which can be recovered.

Environmental and other cleanup crews spent Wednesday recovering the low sulfur diesel fuel.

Responders also deployed about 6,000 feet of boom to contain the diesel, helping to recover more than 2,500 gallons of diesel fuel and water mix.

Response workers were able to recover more than 2,000 gallons of diesel through the night and into Thursday morning.

On Tuesday at 11:24 p.m. the U.S. Coast Guard at Corpus Christi received a report that a barge hit a dock at the Subsea 7 facility in the channel, which caused the release of approximately 5,000 gallons of the low sulfur diesel fuel one of the barges was carrying.

Nobody was hurt in the accident that remains under investigation.

Coast Guard officials say winds were favorable throughout the day, pushing the diesel into areas to maximize recovery efforts.

The Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office and other state and local responders arrived quickly after the incident occurred and began response efforts with the barge owner to mitigate impacts from the spill and recover the diesel from the water.

Miller Environmental was also activated as the oil spill response organization and began cleanup operations.

As the area around the damaged barge is cleaned, the unified command anticipates moving the barge to a Transmontaigne dock, in the Brownsville Ship Channel, to offload the cargo.

The Coast Guard will re-evaluate the need for keeping the safety zone after the barge is moved and will re-open the waterway if it does not impact any cleanup operations.

There have been no reported impacts to wildlife.