The March shipping accident that dumped almost 170,000 gallons of RMG 380 marine fuel into Galveston Bay fouled the nation's seventh largest estuary, one that is second only to the Chesapeake Bay in seafood production. Unlike a larger 2010 spill at nearby Port of Texas, which was contained in a channel, this spill is in open water and the oil is now being spotted in the Gulf of Mexico. Environmentalists and commercial fisherman say the heavy fuel threatens every aspect of marine life in Galveston Bay as it could sink and smother fish, animals and birds. The Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary has reported hundreds of oiled birds at this, the start of spring migration. The bay is a nursery ground for baby crab and for shrimp who have just begun to spawn; once the oil enters the food chain at the bottom, it will contaminate other, larger species.
The investigation is ongoing. The company that owns and operates one of the boats was already on probation for a federal criminal pollution violation, pleading guilty in 2012 and ordered to pay a $300,000 fine.
Fish, marine animals and birds, and those involved in the area's multi-billion dollar commercial and recreational fishing industry. In late March, fifty local businesses filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against the two companies whose boats were involved in creating the spill.