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Texas Attorney General Opens Civil Investigation into Oil Spill

PHOTO: The pelicans of Galveston Bay are among the birds affected by the oil spill from the crash of a ship and a barge carrying marine fuel oil. CREDIT: Mike Fisher
PHOTO: The pelicans of Galveston Bay are among the birds affected by the oil spill from the crash of a ship and a barge carrying marine fuel oil. CREDIT: Mike Fisher
March 25, 2014

GALVESTON, Texas - As work continues on cleanup from the weekend oil spill in Galveston Bay, a civil investigation has been opened by the Texas attorney general. The office calls the spill a blow to the economy in terms of small business, fishing and recreation. Wildlife also is being affected, with at least 50 birds covered in oil found thus far. More are expected, according to Mike Cox with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

"We continue to check areas on the eastern end of Galveston Island and on the Bolivar Peninsula, looking for any other oiled birds or otherwise affected wildlife," Cox said.

Among the birds found covered in oil have been laughing gulls, loons and America white pelicans. Some birds have died, while others have been sent to be cleaned.

The timing of the spill could not have been worse for migrating birds now arriving in large numbers along the coast, according to Lacey McCormick with the National Wildlife Federation.

"The spill happened just two miles from a globally important bird sanctuary, Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary. This type of sticky, heavy fuel that was involved in this crash is a particular risk for birds as well as for marine mammals like dolphins and sea turtles that surface to breathe," McCormick explained.

The spill happened Saturday when a barge carrying marine fuel oil collided with a ship. The tank that was breached holds 168-thousand gallons, but at this point it's unclear how much was spilled.

The Texas attorney general's news release about the spill is at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov. More information from the National Wildlife Federation is at www.nwf.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX