Local News

Mar 24, 2014 1:32 PM by Rachel Cole - rcole@kristv.com

Tools Used to Protect Wildlife and Contain Oil Spill

CORPUS CHRISTI - As crews continue to clean up the oil spill in Galveston Bay, others are working to protect the wildlife in the surrounding area. Officials with Texas A&M Corpus Christi explain the process of protecting the sea creatures and shores.

Containment booms, skimmers and tons of man power are just some of the tools, needed to protect the habitats of many species that live near Sunday's oil spill, in Texas City.

"It functions by collecting oil on the surface of the drum, which is rotated by hydraulic motor and then it skims the oil off with these squeegee on the back as you can see," Tony Wood said.

Tony Wood is the Director of the National Spill Control School. He says, years of research through the Texas General Land Office has prepared crews to pinpoint what areas are a priority.

"Identify sensitive areas along the coast and in near shore waters and this gives us enough information that we know which areas to respond to first and with the great protective measures," Wood said.

Maps are used to examine, what creatures live in the threatened zones. Wood says, a lot of the habitat in danger, is similar to what lives in the coastal bend.

"We have various types of crabs and shrimp in the shallow coastal waters around Galveston Bay, there are waiting birds, there are ducks, there are gulls," he added.

In worst case scenarios, the animals can be smothered by the spill, in this case more than 160 thousand gallons have leaked out.

"What were trying to do is not only actually capture the oil but to protect the shorelines where the habitat exists for birds, for fish and even fresh water marshes as well," Wood said.

He says readiness and response are key factors in sparing as much loss as possible especially when it comes to wildlife.

The oil spill near Texas City, closed the ship channel, connecting Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. In past oil spills, ships were reportedly dragging oil into the shallow waters, officials hope to prevent the oil from Sunday's spill from spreading.

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