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Bad Weather Stalls Spill Clean-up Offshore Galveston

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The US Coast Guard said that bad weather Wednesday night stalled the clean-up and response efforts at the site of an oil pipeline rupture 30 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas.

Strong winds and large waves have made working conditions unsafe, forcing the dive ship American Victory and the skimmer Ampol Recovery to stop operations. The skimmer Brutis is remaining on scene to monitor the oil sheen.

The divers sealed the shore side end of the breach by inflating rubber buoys inside the pipe at 11:20 p.m. Wednesday. Divers were unable to locate the platform end of the breach due to zero visibility caused by heavy silt conditions and deteriorating weather conditions.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the waves are currently five to six feet high, and are expected to reach eight feet by the end of the day. The winds are currently at 17 knots, with occasional gusts to 20, and are expected to pick up to 20 knots with gusts to 27 by tonight. The weather is expected to worsen over the next two days, with pipeline repair efforts expected to resume one Sunday.

The ruptured pipeline has leaked an estimated 43,000 gallons of oil, and it continues to leak at approximately 500 gallons per day, or 21 gallons per hour. The cause of the rupture is still under investigation.

A Unified Command, consisting of Plains Pipeline LP, Coast Guard and Texas General Land Office personnel, is overseeing the operation.

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