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Energy & Environment

Legal Battle Begins Over Galveston Bay Oil Spill

Investigators are still looking into the accident while the legal battle begins.

A barge loaded with marine fuel oil sits partially submerged in the Houston Ship Channel, March 22, 2014. The bulk carrier Summer Wind, reported a collision between the Summer Wind and a barge, containing 924,000 gallons of fuel oil, towed by the motor vessel Miss Susan. Caption and image provided by U.S. Coast Guard

The owner of the towboat and barge that leaked nearly 170,000 gallons of oil into Galveston Bay says the Liberian bulk carrier involved in the collision was “dangerous” and “unseaworthy”.

In a federal court filing, Kirby Inland Marine says the bulk carrier, the Summer Wind, failed to take evasive action. Kirby is seeking damages in excess of $10 million.

This comes after the owner of the Summer Wind, Sea Galaxy, filed a motion to exonerate the company, and put a $9 million cap on any liability it might face. Sea Galaxy says the ship was well-equipped and safely operated.

Federal investigators are still looking into what lead up to the March 22nd accident.

Outside experts who reviewed transcripts of vessel traffic recordings have told the Houston Chronicle that skippers on both ships may have broken rules by failing to talk early enough about how they were going to pass each other, and by not taking the right kind of evasive action.

Neither company will comment, because of the pending litigation.

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David Pitman

David Pitman

Host & Announcer

David was HPM's local Morning Edition host from 2009 to 2020 — when he was moved to the position of Technical Director of Houston Matters with Craig Cohen, and Town Square with Ernie Manouse. David has extensive public and commercial broadcast journalism and production experience dating back to 1993 –...

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