What do you do about lost business because of the oil?

Royal Caribbean’s Navigator leaves Galveston Bay on March 26 as cleanup crews fill bags with oil-absorbent material. It’s time for people in the community — particularly the business community — to try to recapture the message that Galveston is a great tourist attraction and not an oil-soaked mess.

COURTESY PHOTO/ Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Lehmann, U.S. Coast Guard

After four weeks of voting by readers, USA Today declared Galveston the second best destination for spring break, behind only Cancun, Mexico.

That public relations coup lasted just a few days.

On March 22, a collision between a cargo ship and a barge spilled oil into Galveston Bay. The spill made national news.

The news was followed in detail locally. People in this area knew that oil was on the Texas City Dike, Pelican Island and Galveston’s far east end. But they also knew that most of the island’s beaches were not heavily damaged. Volunteers combing the beaches found spots for the cleanup crews to pick up. 

It was not, as spills go, horrific. 

Local folks knew all that.

But readers of national newspapers saw only broad accounts of the spill. Few took the time to figure out whether the oil had reached the beach in front of the hotel where they had planned to stay.

And so it is that, while officials with the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies are talking about scaling back the response to the spill, hotels in Galveston have been getting calls canceling reservations for June and July.

The point of all this ought to be obvious: People and institutions lost business because of the spill.

And, while it’s good that officials are talking about scaling back the response to the spill, it’s time to acknowledge that our tourism business is going to have a hangover.

It’s time for people in the community — particularly the business community — to try recapture that message that Galveston is still the best spot north of Cancun for a relaxing break.

It’ll take some money to get that word out. But we ought to spend it — and we ought not to be shy about sending the bills to the responsible party.

Heber Taylor is editor of The Daily News:

(9) comments

Don Ciaccio

Agreed. The barge company responsible should foot the bill. Start tsk

Don Ciaccio

The Parks Board should take out full page ads in every major newspaper in America and send the bill to the com

Don Ciaccio

Company responsible

Joel Martin

Dear Don and Heber, I think you may be a little late with your advice. The sharks have been circling this one since the day of the spill. However, I'm sure they appreciate your cheerleading .

Mike Leahy

All bills will go to Kirby as the legally responsible party...for now.

But, if the final results of the investigation of the allision should find the root cause to crew negligence by the bulk carrier (ship) involved, Kirby and their underwriters will mount massive efforts to shift that burden to the underwriters of the owners and / or operators of that ship. If, as has been mentioned in passing by news stories in this paper, deficiencies onboard the ship (mechanical, navigational, et.al.) are found to have led to the allision, then Kirby and their underwriters will commence counter suits of not only the ship owner/operators, but the Society who have the vessel in Class. Same for the Recognized Organization (RO) who issued the ship's Safety Management Certificate and also possibly the Administration (Flag State) on whose behalf it was issued. If the USCG did a Port State Control Inspection of this vessel within the last year and did not detect a contributing deficiency, or if they had opportunity to do a PSC inspection and did not do so, taxpayers can look forward to suits brought against the USCG.

No matter what, Admiralty and lesser attorneys (the Buzbee class) have a fat pig to bar-b-que here.

So, it would be very good work for the GDN to spend some more time investigating the other ship involved in the allision; because the whole complexion of damages, lawsuits, etc will change radically if they are found at fault for the root cause event. I still have not even seen a report of what Flag State the ship is registered in and who she is in Class with. This is the most fundamental information.

Publisher / Editor: Gentlemen, Aulds or Elder should be assigned the in-depth investigation of these issues because it is going to matter a whole lot to all the local entities you are championing for mitigation of damages.

Joel Martin

The audio of the conversation between the vessels seems (to me) to indicate the tug captain should not have done what he did. However I'm certainly no expert so others may see it differently.

Mike Leahy

Testimony of the Pilot onboard the bulker will help clarify what that conversation really illustrates. Anybody heard a recording of a word from the USCG traffic duty officer monitoring the vessel traffic and the radio? I haven't as yet.

I wonder if the silence from USCG traffic will be as loud as it was in the Valdez / Prince William Sound traffic channels in 1989?

Carlos Ponce

People nationwide are not familiar with the terms "Texas City Dike" or "Pelican" Island" so the national media used a term more familiar -"Galveston". Blame the national media for the loss of business. I doubt you'll see any money if you sue them, even if you use A Buzzard for your attorney.

George Croix

Sharks?
More like remoras...
The usual anonymous cheerleaders for torts should try not to get so worked up. The barge company is a responsible entity that has to date made no effort to delay, confuse, or refuse to take part in mitigation and resolution. As miceal o'laochdha has so well pointed out, the costs are theirs to bear, then recover later, if they can, if the other party is found to have been the one at fault.
Unlike the pitchfork carriers, they have a name, and are not internet weasels.
Everyone should be compensated for their true losses.
Not one dam_ dime should be awarded for their imaginary ones, or for their 'future pain and suffering'...
For that matter, why folks need to give away 30 or 40% to some attorney escapes me, if they have actual proof of loss, and not just guesses pulled from some client playbook.
But then, I am unfamiliar with the inside workings of lawsuits, having avoided being involved with them, due to this genetic defect I have that requires honesty and fairness to be important...

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