Port closed, spill response grows, businesses brace for damage - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Port closed, spill response grows, businesses brace for damage

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GALVESTON, Texas (FOX 26) -

Dozens of skimmers and miles of absorbent boom.

They are the first line of defense when oil pours in the water - roughly 4000 barrels within Galveston Bay.

"We need to hit the oil hard and fast now to get it out of the environment," said Capt. Brian Penoyer of the U.S. Coast Guard.

At the Texas City Dike sits the Kirby Inland Marine barge which unleashed the tar like crude after Saturday's collision.

More than 600 expert responders are now attacking the mess. Thus far their biggest ally is favorable weather that's pushed much of the oil away from sensitive shore.

"The shift in winds and surface currents has moved the floating oil. Some of that oil is now offshore having exited Galveston Bay," said Penoyer.

And yet the massive Port of Houston remains at a standstill with more than 90 vessels restricted from moving in or out of contaminated water.

"In order for us to resume those transits we will need to make sure that they are not going to become oiled on their transit in or out," said Penoyer.

And that could take days. Meantime, local businesses are bracing for deep damage to their bottom line.

"My biggest concern right now is future generations of oysters because of the hydrocarbons in the water," said Clifford Hillman whose family has been selling fresh Galveston Bay seafood for generations.

And then there's parts of Galveston Island where yachts and fishing boats have been barred from leaving their docks because the risk of contamination is still too great.

"Any small business something like this can be catastrophic," said David Warden of Carefree Boat Club.

Late Monday the Coast Guard announced that the Bolivar Ferry would resume operation with a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. schedule.

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