A barge carrying 924,000 gallons of fuel oil hit another ship in the Houston ship channel and started leaking on Saturday.

The U.S. Coast Guard received a call at about 12:30 p.m. from the captain of the 585-foot ship Summer Wind reporting its collision with a barge, the AP reported.

The barge was being towed from Texas City, about 40 miles from downtown Houston, to Bolivar when the collision occurred.

Kirby Inland Marine owns the tow vessel, the Miss Susan, and the barge.

The Coast Guard didn’t release an estimate of how much oil had leaked into Galveston Bay, the AP report said.

The tow vessel carried a crew of six. All are reported in stable condition.

Jim Suydam, spokesman for the General Land Office, described the type of oil the barge was carrying as “sticky, gooey, thick, tarry stuff,” the AP said.

“That stuff is terrible to have to clean up,” he said.

Richard Gibbons, the conservation director of the Houston Audubon Society, told the AP that both sides of the ship channel near the spill are important bird habitats.

The Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary attracts 50,000 to 70,000 shorebirds to shallow mud flats, Gibbons said.

“The timing really couldn’t be much worse since we’re approaching the peak shorebird migration season,” Gibbons said.

A stretch of the Houston ship channel was closed to traffic after the collision, according to the Coast Guard.


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