The CITGO Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex, the Coast Guard and the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator's Office have established a Unified Command to manage the clean up and recovery of a major oil spill in the Calcasieu Ship Channel near Lake Charles.

Recovery efforts began Tuesday night after receiving reports of oil in the Calcasieu channel near CITGO's Clifton Ridge Terminal. The recovery operations represent an expansion of activity that began in response to Monday's heavy rainfall and partial flooding, which overwhelmed the CITGO's waste water storage tank area and dikes. A mixture of storm water and oil was released into the Indian Marais, CITGO's on-site drainage feature. Multiple contract oil recovery organizations, boats, skimmers and containment booms are being utilized to contain and recover the oil.

At 3 a.m. Wednesday, the Coast Guard closed approximately three miles of the Calcasieu Parish Ship Channel to maritime traffic from light 101 to light 109. It is expected that the channel will remain closed for several days. The Unified Command is working at this time to complete the containment and recovery of the oil and the restoration of channel usage.

An estimated 17,400 barrels of oil leaked into the channel, impacting about six miles of the river. By approximately 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, a large portion of the oil had been contained. The Indian Marais area  within CITGO's facility has been secured with containment booms and vacuum trucks.

The cause of the spill remains under investigation.
Clean-up and containment operations continue on the east and west banks of the Calcasieu channel. The Unified Command is conducting on-site and aerial evaluations of the area.

CITGO has established a toll-free claims number for the incident. Affected individuals may call 1-800-213-5540 for more information. A separate number has been established for claims related to exterior boat cleaning. That number is 337-708-7177.