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   GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Officials are lifting all remaining restrictions on traffic though the Houston Ship Channel, five days after an oil spill shut down one of the nation's busiest seaports.
   The U.S. Coast Guard announced the reopening late Thursday. The channel links the area's busy ports with the largest petrochemical complex in the country.
   The channel was closed Saturday, after nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil spilled into the waterway south of Houston when a ship punctured an oil barge. At its height, the closure stranded some 100 vessels.
   Officials erected inflatable booms but oil drifted into the Gulf of Mexico. On Thursday, officials said oil had washed onto 12 miles of beach at Matagorda Island, 100 miles southwest of Galveston, but it hadn't reached an environmentally delicate bay nearby.
Published in National News

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP's 86-day struggle to stop the flow of oil gushing from its blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico will be the focus of a trial scheduled to resume Monday in federal court.

BP insists it was prepared to respond to the deadly disaster, but plaintiffs' attorneys will argue that the company could have capped the well much sooner if it hadn't ignored decades of warnings about the risks of a deep-water blowout.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has set aside 16 days for the second phase of the trial, which also will feature experts' dueling testimony about the amount of oil that spilled into the Gulf.

The trial's first phase ended in April after the judge heard eight weeks of testimony about the causes of the blowout.

Published in National News

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Environmental Protection Agency officials say the U.S. is falling short of its goals to cut Mississippi River pollution and shrink the dead zone it creates in the Gulf of Mexico.

Speaking in Minneapolis Tuesday, the federal officials said states in the river's watershed need to accelerate efforts to cut pollution from farm field runoff and sewage treatment plant discharges.

The area of depleted oxygen was the size of Connecticut this summer. Nancy Stoner, the EPA's acting assistant administrator for water, says that's about three times larger than the agency's goal.

Minnesota Public Radio reports each state has its own plan to help reach the overall goal. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will issue a draft of its updated plan next month and take public comments on it.

 

Published in National News

   NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal official has confirmed that a fire has broken out on a blown-out Gulf of Mexico gas well.

   Eileen Angelico of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement confirmed to The Associated Press that the evacuated rig caught fire late Tuesday. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

   The drilling rig involved was evacuated early Tuesday when the blowout occurred.

   Angelico says it wasn't immediately clear what caused the gas to ignite. And it wasn't known what efforts to extinguish the blaze were being made early Wednesday.

   Personnel with Wild Well Control Inc. were at the site to assess how and when to try to bring the well under control.

   

Published in National News

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