08 March 2010 19:13 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--A hearing to affix blame for the largest Texas oil spill in two decades opens on Tuesday as the US Coast Guard (USCG) will hear testimony on the 23 January collision between an oil tanker and two other vessels, a Coast Guard spokesman said on Monday.
No preliminary findings on the spill have been issued by the Coast Guard or the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Petty officer Patrick Kelley said a statement on the spill would be issued at the hearing's opening on Tuesday.
The spill involved the tanker Eagle Otome, which first struck the vessel Gull Arrow, moored at the Port of Port Arthur, Texas, that Saturday morning. Then the tanker collided with the first of two chemical barges being pushed by the tug Dixie Vengeance.
Both ships, the barge and the port’s pier sustained significant damage, but the greatest damage from the incident occurred when the Eagle Otome's cargo tank ruptured and spilled more than 400,000 gallons of oil – or about 9,500 bbls - into the Sabine-Neches Waterway.
The spill closed the waterway for almost a week and caused some disruption at nearby oil refineries.
Yet it hardly compared with the notorious March 1989 spill, in which the Exxon Valdez ran aground in ?xml:namespace>
Exxon also chartered both the tanker and the tug in the
The chief executive of the
Ship pilots and other authorities involved have refused to discuss it, pending the close of the investigation.
Investigations into marine incidents can grind on for years. An investigation into the cause of a
"Sometimes these things can take as long as three years," said USCG Petty Officer Thomas Blue in
In that case, preliminary USCG findings found that the towboat operator was not licensed to steer the vessel.
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