Texas oil spill threatens local businesses and wildlife

BY Ariel Min  March 24, 2014 at 4:30 PM EDT

Video by PBS NewsHour

Dead birds covered in black oil have been spotted on the shores of Galveston, Texas, since Sunday’s oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico.

The spill blocked the Houston Ship Channel, stopping about 60 vessels and cruise ships from entering the area. U.S. Coast Guard officials said it’s possible that as much as 168,000 gallons of oil spilled from a barge when one of the tanks ruptured. Oil has been detected 12 miles offshore in the gulf as of Sunday afternoon. Officials said it would take at least several days to contain the oil.

The recent spill of black, heavy tar-like oil is a huge blow to the wildlife and small businesses nearby. Texas City’s shores are popular bird habitats, especially with the migratory shorebird season approaching soon. It also threatens small fishing businesses and can be a safety hazard for local residents.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sent investigators from the Texas Environmental Protection Division to Galveston on Monday, promising to help local businesses recover from the damage. His statements showed concerns for the ripple effect that could eventually damage the Texas economy.