Ships make channel test run after Texas oil spill

The wrecked barge that leaked oil into the Houston Ship Channel, Saturday, just off of the Texas City dike, sppears Monday, March 24, 2014, in Texas City. Thousands of gallons of tar-like oil spilled into the major U.S. shipping channel after a barge ran into a ship Saturday. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Karen Warren) MANDATORY CREDIT
The wrecked barge that leaked oil into the Houston Ship Channel, Saturday, just off of the Texas City dike, sppears Monday, March 24, 2014, in Texas City. Thousands of gallons of tar-like oil spilled into the major U.S. shipping channel after a barge ran into a ship Saturday. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Karen Warren) MANDATORY CREDIT

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) – The Coast Guard has authorized two vessels to move through the Houston Ship Channel as a test to see whether it can re-open to traffic after an oil spill.

Coast Guard Lt. Sam Danus said Tuesday that the Carnival Magic cruise ship and a boat operated by the Houston Pilots association are sailing out of South Texas into Galveston Bay, four days after a barge spilled as much as 170,000 gallons of oil.

About 100 barges and other ships are waiting to use the channel, which connects the Gulf with Houston and nearby parts of Southeast Texas, including key oil refineries.

Danus said the two boats’ progress through the water would be evaluated, but did not say how.

Oil cleanup is underway in the environmentally sensitive areas around Galveston Bay.

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