Coast Guard officials say they're trying to resume barge traffic in and out of one of the Houston Ship Channel as quickly as possible after this weekend's oil spill

Ferry and cruise service has resumed, but dozens of other vessels are still stuck on either side of the channel. 

“The unified command has made exceptions for cruise ships because it was that important to get these people home,” the Coast Guard's Brian Penoyer told reporters Monday.  “That is an exception, and we certainly would not rule out allowing other vessels to operate within the safety zone as we did with the cruise ships.”

Penoyer says its important the water is clean before boats are allowed through.

“We want to make sure when a ship passes through the narrow Houston Ship Channel jetties that we're not causing a problem in terms of the bow wake displacing that oil and putting it back afloat,” said Penoyer.

“We must be assured that the stretches of previously impacted area no longer present a risk of further oiling, in other words we have to have clean water,” he said.

“Once we've done that, we then also have to assure any vessels that were impacted are cleaned before they enter the clean water,” Penoyer went on to say.

“The quantity is far less important to me operationally than where there are patches of recoverable oil, because I need to recover everything that can be recovered,” he said.  “So I'm focused on where I can get my skimmers to get the oil out of the water.”

Rich Arnhart with the Texas General Land Office insists very little wildlife has been impacted, though additional cleanup sites are ready if needed.

“There is a site put on standby in Houston in the augment that we do have more wildlife affected,” said Arnhart.

However, the local Audubon Society reported at least 50 oil-covered birds in the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary.

The public is reminded to refrain from capturing any potentially affected wildlife and is urged to contact Wildlife Response Service at 1-888-384-2000.


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