Galveston Oil Spill Threatening Crucial Bird Refuge

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An oil containment boom cuts across a sandbar covered with birds on Pelican Island near Galveston, Texas.

A barge that spilled 168,000 gallons (635,000 liters) of oil Saturday into Galveston Bay is threatening a refuge that’s crucial habitat for thousands of birds, experts say.

The spill occurred when the barge collided with a ship in the Houston Ship Channel near Texas City, on the western coast of Galveston Bay.

The area is about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Bolivar Peninsula, which is home to the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, a preserved area of marshy mudflats that’s home to a variety of geese, ducks, herons, and other waterbirds.

The sanctuary has been designated by bird-advocacy organizations as a Globally Significant Important Bird Area and is part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.

The government’s cleanup efforts began immediately, with 24 response vessels working to skim the oil…

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