Houston-based Kirby Inland Marine will pay $15.3 million in damages for 2014 Galveston Bay oil spill

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Wednesday, December 8, 2021
The accident in March shut down the Houston Ship Channel

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston-based company's barge collided with a cargo ship in March 2014, causing a huge oil spill in Galveston Bay. Now, they are paying for the mistake.

Houston-based Kirby Inland Marine LP will pay $15.3 million in damages to the state of Texas after the collision of one of their barges with a 585-foot-long cargo ship that was en route in the Houston Ship Channel. A Kirby towboat tried to push two 300-foot-long oil barges across the Houston Ship Channel in front of the oncoming cargo ship.

The accident happened in the Texas City Y crossing. The barge spilled 4,000 barrels of oil, about 168,000 gallons. It affected the Houston Ship Channel all the way to Padre Island near Corpus Christi.

The Coast Guard and state were involved in the cleaning. The accident caused some environmental damage to the marsh lands, marine life and birds.

RELATED: What caused collision near Texas City dike?

"All oil transporters must take care to operate safely and prevent spills into our nation's waters," said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This case illustrates that the stakes are high, the harms are serious, and the United States and its state partners will diligently pursue and secure compensation for injuries to natural resources resulting from oil spills."

"We are pleased to join our co-trustees to restore vital habitats, dolphins, birds and recreational areas injured by this oil spill," said Director Nicole LeBoeuf of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Ocean Service. "Local communities and economies depend on resilient coastal ecosystems, and we look forward to working with the public on projects to restore them."

"The Texas City Y oil spill impacted shoreline and marsh habitat on Matagorda Island, which is part of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge," said Amy Lueders, the Service's Southwest Regional Director.

"This settlement will provide for restoration of these injured resources as well as helping to recover shorebirds and other birds and their habitats impacted by the oil and cleanup activities."

According to Clean Water Act enacted in 2016, the United States in collaboration with the Coast Guard secured a $4.9 million settlement with Kirby for civil penalties and injunctive relief measures to improve their safety measures and prevent any more spills.