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February 2nd, 2010

Coast Guard reveals details, but no cause to oil spill

Cleanup efforts continue for the biggest Texas oil spill in 15 years.  Officials on the scene have plans to reopen the waterway to smaller ships.

No possible cause for the wreck has been released.  Initial reports suggested an unexpected power loss forced the Eagle Otome off course, but the Coast Guard has since retracted that report without offering an alternate explanation.

The collision has highlighted the long-standing need to deepen and widen the channel, the last time this was done being in 1962, and ships have increased tremendously in size since then.

The channel is so narrow now that two tankers can’t pass each other in opposite directions, and larger tankers can’t make it through at all.  Widening would be an economic boon for the waterway that accommodates 15 to 20 percent of the nation’s crude oil.  This accident marked the third time a passing ship has hit a moored ship at the port of Port Arthur.

Meanwhile, tankers continued to line up on both sides of the closed channel: 14 waiting to come in from the Gulf and 12 waiting to leave.

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