As reported by the Port of Houston Authority (PHA) a barge and a ship collided in the Port of Galveston on March 22, 2014, spilling 169,000 gallons of oil. According to Your Houston News no marine traffic or ferries are being allowed entry into the bay until the water is clear; which authorities say could take up to several weeks.
Besides the obvious and very serious effects a spill like this causes to wildlife and the environment, it also poses a economic threat, as any cargo entering through the Gulf of Mexico is on hold. At last report, there were at least 33 vessels waiting to enter the channel and 37 vessels waiting to leave.
A channel closing of this nature is concerning to the PHA and all shippers utilizing that channel for ocean freight, cruise ship entry, ferries, steamships and any private facilities. The Port of Houston is the 7th busiest port in the United States and is a significant economic hub for Houston and Texas, in general.
Crews have laid more than 90,000 feet of containment boom around the spill and volunteers are mobilizing to help affected wildlife. It is unknown how long the Channel will be closed or how long clean up will take.