GALVESTON, Tex. — Oil from a 120,000-gallon spill soiled an island in environmentally sensitive Galveston Bay Monday, despite efforts to contain and clean up crude leaking from two barges that collided with a tanker.
Coast Guard officials who flew over the spill estimated its size Monday at 120,000 gallons, more than double their earlier estimate of 50,000 gallons.
"There are three areas of oil that have moved (from the collision site)," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Dennis Schaefer.
One area extended about four miles eastward from the spill site with ribbons of oil sheen and heavy patches, he said. A second heavy patch about an acre in size was concentrated along Redfish Island, and the third patch stretched southwest of the accident site about a mile.
Skimmer boats were in place at all three sites to collect the oil. A vacuum barge also was at Redfish Island, roughly in the center of Galveston Bay, where oil already had stained beaches.
The Coast Guard also was trying to determine the source of oil that washed up on Stewart Beach, one of Galveston's main tourist beaches, on the Gulf of Mexico side of Galveston Island.
"The oil from this spill is not reaching any other beaches at this time. However, our mystery spill has reached Stewart's Beach," Schaefer said.
All of the oil was pumped from one of two disabled barges Monday and workers were siphoning crude from a second partially submerged barge. Booms surrounded the sunken barge in an effort to contain some of the spill.
Booms also were set up to keep the oil from reaching Salt and Dickinson bayous.