Ships return to La. waters after oil spill

Ships return to La. waters after oil spill

Commercial vessels began using a southwestern Louisiana shipping channel on Friday for the first time since a spill of 47,000 barrels of oil forced its closure last week and tapped the nation’s oil reserve.

The U.S. Coast Guard allowed a limited number of ships to use the Calcasieu Ship Channel after the wake from a barge carrying gasoline moved through the channel without disturbing cleanup efforts, said spokesman Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Eggers.

“The hull came through and it did not have oil on it, it didn’t disturb any of the cleanup operations, it didn’t disturb any of the oil contained by boom,” he said.

Vessels were expected to be allowed to use the channel to head inbound from the Gulf of Mexico toward Lake Charles on Saturday.

More than 37,000 barrels of the spilled oil have been cleaned up, the Coast Guard said.

The June 19 spill at a Citgo Petroleum Corp. refinery in Lake Charles forced the closure of the channel, a key lane for transporting petroleum in and out of the region’s four refineries. Citgo said the oil poured over the top of the tanks’ walls during heavy rain, initially causing closure of the channel’s 40-mile span to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Coast Guard and the state Department of Environmental Quality are investigating the spill.


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