Oil from spill reaches Matagorda Island, but not bay so far

By Samantha Ptashkin - Reporter

PORT O'CONNOR, Texas - U.S. Coast Guard officials confirmed the oil has reached Matagorda Island, as predicted, but the good news is that the oil is along the southwest part of the island, facing the Gulf of Mexico, and not Matagorda Bay.

Crews loaded up in Port O'Connor ready to survey the spill that has now reached Matagorda Island. According to the Coast Guard, the spill spreads about 12 nautical miles in length and about a100 feet in width from sea to shore. Officials say luckily, Mother Nature is on their side.

"We got very fortunate that Mother Nature pushed it south. Matagorda bay is not going to be impacted, so the bird island and other environmental sensitive areas are not going to have issues," said Randal Ogrydziak, with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Right now the oil is primarily located in the breaker zone, about 100 feet from shore, and the Coast Guard says that will help keep the oil away from the island.

"All this oil is in the breaker zone so it's being churned up and that's naturally degrading it and lowering what we call the oil budget that will come ashore," said Ogrydziak.

Crews on scene will be using rakes and shovels to pick up any signs of oil on shore. At the same time, while they say at this point a spill into Matagorda Bay is unlikely, they'll be keeping a watchful eye.

"We're taking advantage of every opportunity for pre-booming, we have pre-planning in place, we're working hand-in-hand with wildlife refuge. We're all working together to ensure if there's any impact, we're on it right away," said Kim Griffith, with the Texas General Land Office.

As the cleanup continues, fisherman are allowed to continue using the bay. However, the Coast Guard is asking them to stay away from waters facing the Gulf.

The cleanup is also well underway in the Galveston area. Volunteers have teamed up with a trained response team to search for signs of oil along 26 miles of beachfront, starting west of Stewart Beach.

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