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Nautical cleanup begins after Ike

With a lull in the parade of hurricanes and tropical storms sweeping across the Atlantic, the Coast Guard set about cleaning up the GulfCoast in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

Coast Guard units in the Houston-Galveston area responded to 101 reports of pollution, and repairing or replacing 40 percent of critical aids to navigation in the region.

The Coast Guard says 15 incidents of pollution required active cleanup, while the other required passive action. Reports included the discharge of petroleum products from damaged or submerged storage tanks, as well as machinery and vessels.

As of Wednesday, more than 100 vessels were awaiting access to transit to facilities in Houston, Galveston, Freeport, Port Arthur and Texas City. Because of damaged or misplaced nav aids and submerged hazards, the Houston Ship Channel was open to outbound commercial vessels with a draft of 12 feet or less; the Port of Freeport, Texas, was open to vessels with a draft of less than 36 feet for daylight transits only and day and night transits for vessels with drafts of 16 feet or less.

Twenty-one oil and gas platforms were reported missing or damaged in the Gulf of Mexico.

-Rich Armstrong