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Houston Ship Channel reopening to all traffic

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March 27, 2014 11:01 PM EST | AP


GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Officials are lifting all remaining restrictions on traffic though the Houston Ship Channel, five days after an oil spill shut down one of the nation's busiest seaports.

The U.S. Coast Guard announced the reopening late Thursday. The channel links the area's busy ports with the largest petrochemical complex in the country.

The channel was closed Saturday, after nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil spilled into the waterway south of Houston when a ship punctured an oil barge. At its height, the closure stranded some 100 vessels.

Officials erected inflatable booms but oil drifted into the Gulf of Mexico. On Thursday, officials said oil had washed onto 12 miles of beach at Matagorda Island, 100 miles southwest of Galveston, but it hadn't reached an environmentally delicate bay nearby.