On the evening of June 3, 2003 an operational error while circulating mud tanks on the off shore supply vessel Big Horn River resulted in the discharge of 214 barrels of 75 percent diesel-based drilling mud into Redfish Bay at Harbor Island, Texas. The bulk of the drilling mud sank to the bottom of the Aransas Channel with no surface indication as to the extent the product had spread along the channel bottom. Initial response to the release was hampered by severe weather while concern grew over the sensitivity of the surrounding area. Responders were faced with a complex challenge to develop an efficient recovery plan. Divers were utilized to delineate the extent of the underwater contamination and facilitated the cleanup with a unique vacuum truck-air lift system developed on scene.

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