Houston Oil Clean-Up on 25th Anniversary of Exxon Valdez Spill

Morning Money Memo…

Dozens of ships sit idle off the coast of Galveston, Texas on March 23, 2014. Smiley N. Pool/AP Photo

Talk about irony. On this 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the busy Houston Ship Channel was partially closed because of the weekend spill of nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like crude. The Coast Guard says barge carrying about 900,000 gallons collided with a ship, spilling about a fifth of its liquid cargo. The channel is one of the world's busiest waterways for moving petrochemicals. As many as 60 vessels are backed up, either trying to get in or out. Shipping is being allowed to move today on a case-by-by-case basis. Oil was spotted 12 miles off shore in an area that is major habitat for tens of thousands of wintering shorebirds. Environmental groups say the spill occurred at a sensitive time of year.

The last big spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the Deepwater Horizon disaster which dumped 210 million gallons four years ago. What happened in the Houston Ship Channel is miniscule by comparison. But conservationists are worried. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, there could be hundreds or thousands of birds affected by the spill.

Nearly 11 million gallons of thick crude oil leaked out of the Exxon Valdez after it hit Bligh Reef in Alaska 25 years ago today. It took four years to clean up Prince William Sound, but despite a massive recovery effort some oil remains. "You dig down six inches or so in the inner tidal zone and you can still find volatile oil," says Steve Rothchild at the Prince William Sound Council. Exxon says it's still dedicated to helping Alaska. "We feel like our work is never done," says company spokesman Richard Keil. "It's something we're committed to each and every day and working to stay abreast of all technological advancements and developments that help us in this regard."

Apple and Comcast are reported to be in talks about linking up for a streaming-television service. The Wall Street Journal says if an agreement is reached, an Apple set-top box would be used and get special treatment to ensure reliable streaming. The talks between the largest U.S. cable provider and Apple "are still in early stages and many hurdles remain," says the Journal.

Breakfast is now being served with a side of sticker shock. The price of bacon is surging and the cost of other morning staples, like coffee and orange juice, is set to rise because of global supply problems. According to government data, the cost of meats, fish and eggs last month led the biggest increase in U.S. food prices in nearly 2.5 years.

More optimism about the U.S. economy is helping to boost the stock market. The big stock S&P 500 index rose nearly 1 and a half per cent last week. Futures are up this morning. A new survey by the National Association for Business Economics is the latest to forecast stronger growth later this year.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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