HOUSTON — The attorney for the company that operates a ship involved in a collision with a barge that caused a large oil spill in Galveston Bay, said he expects a federal seizure order will soon be resolved.
On Friday, Federal District Court Judge John Froeschner issued a warrant of seizure — also known as the arrest of the vessel — at the request of attorney Sean O’Rourke.
O’Rourke represents fishermen and bait shop owners who are suing over the spill, which closed shipping lanes for several days. The lawsuit names the operator of the cargo vessel Summer Wind, the Greek shipping company Cleopatra Shipping Agency, as well as the barge’s owner Kirby Inland Marine and defendants.
Houston-based attorney Dimitri Georgantas said he has “a reasonable expectation” the issue will be resolved by Monday.
The judge’s order allows for the ship to resume normal operations once the two sides work out a deal that would secure evidence that may be part of future legal action.
On March 22, the Summer Wind was en route to the Port of Houston when it collided with a barge near the tip of the Texas City Dike.
The barge was being towed by the tugboat Miss Susan and was headed from the Port of Texas City to the Intracoastal Waterway along the Bolivar Peninsula.
The vessels collided near the tip of the Texas City Dike, in an area known as the Texas City Y. That is where the Houston and Texas City ship channels and Intracoastal Waterway intersect.
The collision resulted in the spill of more than 168,000 gallons — or 4,000 barrels — of heavy fuel oil into the bay.
The oil found its way into Gulf of Mexico and washed up on beaches from Galveston to Matagorda County.
A Coast Guard investigation has yet to determine who was at fault in the collision. Still, a post-collision inspection of the Summer Wind found that the vessel had issues with its navigation equipment.
Under federal laws, Kirby is designated as the responsible party, since the spilled oil came from its barge. The accident investigation is led by the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit in Texas City and assisted by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Georgantas declined to comment on the collision citing the investigation.
Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.