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Galveston Oil Spill Affects Houston Ship Channel

Photo of Brant Stogner

The Houston Ship Channel, a 50-mile waterway that transports some of the world's largest quantities of petroleum and chemical products remains shut down due to a massive fuel oil spill in the Galveston Bay. Over 150,000 gallons of oil, a vital source of the Texas economy, spilled into the bay on March 22nd.

Marine scientists and fishing industry officials are concerned that the spill may cause long term damage for the multibillion-dollar recreational and commercial fishing industry. In 2012, nearly 5.8 million pounds of fish were commercially harvested from Galveston Bay. This harvest represents a combined wholesale value of $16.4 million revenue.

Though state health inspectors have not yet stated the hazards of consuming said fish, large portions of the bay are cut off from the public nonetheless. Additionally, recreational charter boats were unable to operate during the spring break season and a number of boat owners have already filed a class-action lawsuit against the operators of the oil barge that caused the spill.

After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident, the market shrank in the region due to health concerns related to the spill. Local businesses lost hundreds of thousands of dollars and many are still waiting on claims from BP. As of Sunday, March 30th, tar balls have been washing onto the beaches of Mustang Island's State Park. Park officials don't expect to see sludge until next week. What is most concerning is that this most recent spill involves fuel oil as compared to the 2010 disaster which involved crude-oil. Fuel oil, while not containing toxins as acute as crude-oil, persists in the environment longer.

If you or someone you know have been injured or killed due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-396-3964 or 1-800-594-4884.

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