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Oil spill cleanup impedes major Texas ship channel

Containment booms were deployed in Galveston to protect environmentally sensitive areas, the Coast Guard said.
Containment booms were deployed in Galveston to protect environmentally sensitive areas, the Coast Guard said.Smiley N. Pool/hOUSTON cHRONICLE VIA Associated Press

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TEXAS CITY, Texas — A barge that once carried some 900,000 gallons of heavy tar-like oil was cleared Sunday of its remaining contents, a day after the vessel collided with a ship in the busy Houston Ship Channel and leaked as much as a quarter of its cargo into the waterway.

Coast Guard officials said that up to 168,000 gallons were dumped and that oil from the ruptured barge had been detected 12 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico as of Sunday afternoon.

‘‘This is a significant spill,’’ Captain Brian Penoyer, commander of the Coast Guard at Houston-Galveston, said.

But he said the emptying of the barge Sunday, a process known as lightering as contents are transferred to other vessels, was equally significant.

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