Nightly News   |  March 24, 2014

Oil Spill Paralyzes Houston Port

The Houston Ship Channel, one of the world’s busiest ports, was at a standstill after 160,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled during a barge collision.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it was 25 years ago today one of the worst environmental disasters in world history , the exxon valdez , the massive tanker carrying 50 glns of crude, devastating the wildlife, the fishing industry there has never recovered.

>>> meanwhile, a genuine disaster is playing out in texas after the collision of a ship in the barge, the ship was in the channel connecting the bay, oil has been found, all shipping has been stopped in one of the busiest ports in the country. our reporter, janet shamlian has more.

>> reporter: the houston ship channel , among the world's busiest ports at a stand still for the third day as 160,000 gallons of a spill hit the beach of galveston . there is no set time table for reopening.

>> unified command must be assured that the stretches of previously impacted area no longer present a risk of further oiling. in other words, we have to have clean water .

>> reporter: even with 13 miles of containment in the water and dozens of ships skimming, the oil has seeped into the area at the most sensitive of times, mating season. we're out here looking at the shore, and already they're seeing the impacts on wildlife. the toll looks like this, the oil-covered loon at the water's edge, this one still has a chance but odds are slim, and thousands more are at risk.

>> we estimate that we have something like that 100,000 birds that migrate through here at any one time.

>> reporter: the spill has paralyzed the port, more than 80 vessels are waiting to get in or out, including three cruise ships and their thousands of passengers.

>> bad accidents, we don't need anymore pollution than we already have.

>> reporter: the region is home to eight refineries which rely on a steady steam of crews. there will be a big cost to consume.

>> the longer the ship channel is down the bigger the impact will be on diesel and gas supplies in the u.s.

>> reporter: tonight, the oil is washing to shore on tourist beaches like this in galveston , while the vessels are trying to get into the ship channel and could be waiting for days, brian?

>>> janet shamlian in galveston for