Sun, Waves, Skimming Keep Oil Spill From Texas Coast

THE forces of nature have combined with oil skimmers to cut the size of the stalled slick from the crippled supertanker Mega Borg. Officials said on June 20 that it was possible the oil would never reach shore.

``As far as we can tell, it looks like it's possible that it will not hit at all,'' said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. John Leonard. ``It looks like the remaining oil may either evaporate or will be skimmed. ... We're still bracing for possible problems. But every day that goes by decreases the probable impact'' the oil could have on the coast, he said.

Hot temperatures in recent days have sped the evaporation of the oil, while heavy rains earlier this year increased the flow of the Trinity River into Galveston Bay, helping keep the oil away, Commander Leonard said.

``We've been very fortunate with the weather,'' he said.

The Mega Borg leaked at least 3.9 million gallons of light crude oil into the Gulf after it was rocked by explosions June 8. Two men were killed and two others are missing and presumed dead.

Federal officials made aerial sweeps to monitor the impact of the spill on marine life, particularly dolphins and loggerhead turtles.

A loggerhead turtle caught by divers June 18 was transported to Galveston the next day. Officials said there was no oil on the turtle but planned to examine it for any signs of harm from the spill.

Federal officials earlier reported they spotted at least five turtles sullied by oil.

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