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Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup continues near Texas City (slideshow)

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The U.S. Coast Guard issued its seventh update tonight regarding the cleanup in the Port of Houston/Galveston following the barge collision on the 22nd.

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They have authorized limited marine traffic in the safety zone for commercial ship traffic, as of today, Tuesday.

What the Guard has coined the "Port Coordination Team" is prioritizing which ships can transit through the channel in which order.

"Barges are being allowed to transit through the Houston Ship Channel and on the Intracoastal Waterway, after assessment teams deemed the channel clear," the Guard said tonight in their press release.

Cleanup efforts focused heavily on the sensitive lagoon area of East Beach today. Other areas where significant amounts of oil were recovered include Big Reef, Pelican Island and the Texas City Dike, the Guard said.

Weather conditions in the Port of Houston/Galveston pushed oil 12 miles out into the Gulf, and into a southwesterly direction along the coast. The Unified Command has begun preparations to prevent potential environmental impact in the Matagorda area, since inclement weather tomorrow may push some of the contaminant to the shore, the Guard said.

Response personnel, wildlife resources and protective equipment are being deployed, according to a contingency plan for the area. Air monitoring continues, the Guard says, "although readings have consistently shown no reason for health concerns".

A vessel decontamination plan has been formulated to assist vessels that may have been impacted by oil.

Experts from U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are responding with rehabilitation, husbandry and stabilization trailers staged along the Texas City Dike, Bolivar Peninsula and the Phoenix Pollution Control Facility, the Guard reports.

The public can call 1-888-384-2000 or e-mail if they find or observe oiled wildlife

To date, 18.9 miles of total nonconsecutive shoreline has been impacted; 175,098 gallons of oily water recovered; 1,799 bags of solid waste recovered; 18,480 gallons of oil evaporated; 69,268 feet of containment boom deployed; 253,300 feet of containment boom staged; 5,400 feet of additional containment boom ordered; 70 response vessels assigned; 940 personnel involved on or around the scene; and 324 personnel working at Incident Command.

For those interested in volunteering, a list is being developed. Please call (713)-435-1562 for more information.

Bold marks and hyperlinks are those of the examiner's.